HometownMcLennan County


Neighbors, city leaders say park improvements a priority for booming neighborhood

Highway 84 Traffic
Posted at 10:08 PM, Jan 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-16 23:41:19-05

HARRIS CREEK, TX — A meeting Thursday night in one of Waco's fastest-growing areas could have an impact on its future growth.

The area between Woodway and McGregor has exploded in the last several years, creating a need for amenities.

Even on a rainy, drizzly day, Waco's Trailblazer Park sees visitors who come to run its trails, but they don't find much else here. There's a gazebo, benches, and a parking lot, but not even a real bathroom.

The nearest playground sits in a neighbor's fenced-in backyard.

Nathan Embry wants to change that, so the president of the of the Highway 84 West Neighborhood Association called his neighbors together to talk over the future of the land with Waco city leaders.

"There's nothing over there. The closest park is Poag Park," he explained. That's seven miles up the road in Woodway.

Waco established Trailblazer Park just as people started moving to that end of town, but only installed minimal amenities at the time.

"2011,12 & 13 established the Cotton Belt Trail utilizing an old railway, a really great walking trail, running trail, and anchored on one end was Trailblazer Park," said Jonathan Cook, Director of Waco Parks & Recreation.

In the next five years, the City says the population in the area grew almost 25%, putting the park back on the radar for improvements.

"We were happy to get this in the budget for this year," said Waco City Councilman Jim Holmes.

Waco city leaders plan to spend half a million dollars improving this park. Why? Because they say growth is coming down Highway 84 like a freight train. In fact, one expert says he expects the population here to quadruple over the next couple of years.

So the meeting helps insure the people living in the area get the kind of park they need and will use. At the top of the list? A playground.

"Now we've seen it develop around to where we're really looking at specific connections to make sure the kids can find that playground and have a great day," said Cook.

Work on park improvements should get started this summer.

Other neighbors want permanent bathrooms and security cameras, all to accommodate even more neighbors, which experts say will start another boom once the overpass at Speegleville Road opens.

"We're excited about it. We think we can handle the traffic and we want to have a good park to handle those families," said Embry.

Because he says his neighborhood's "beacon of prosperity" will only burn brighter as Waco keeps growing.