(ROCKWALL COUNTY, TX – Dec. 3, 2015) The Rockwall County Open Space Alliance provided citizens the chance to review and give input on an Open Space Master Plan designed to preserve and protect natural systems, designate open spaces and corridors for future recreational considerations, and to establish trail connections throughout the County during a meeting held at the Rockwall County Courthouse on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Residents in attendance also received an update on three high priority areas in the county which the RCOSA will look to preserve and enhance to improve the overall quality of life of Rockwall County citizens.
Based on a number of criteria during a recent open space study – including location and connectivity to other open spaces, ecological and environmental value, opportunities to provide recreation, preservation of the county’s history and culture, and the amount of development pressure of the area – Lakeside Park, the Stodghill-Fowler area, and the large floodplain area to the east of the county scored highly in each of those priority areas.
Lakeside Park – which the City of Rockwall is currently in negotiations to acquire from the City of Dallas – provides a lot of accessibility and connectivity due to its location adjacent to Rockwall, and because it’s positioned near Lake Ray Hubbard a majority of the property lies in a floodplain, which adds environmental value. The lake can also provide opportunities for waterfront recreation as well as passive recreation in the floodplain area.
The Stodghill-Fowler property, located in a centralized area of the county along State Highway 66, has an NRCS or soil conservation lake and Camp Creek running through it to provide environmental value, as well as recreational opportunities with its historic farmstead and outcrops of the original rock wall for which the county is named.
One of the larger opportunities to preserve open space includes the floodplain located on the eastern part of the county. One of the more undeveloped areas in the county, the property includes lots of creeks which can provide for future water-based and land-based recreational opportunities.
Director of Planning at Wallace Roberts and Todd Design Stephen Hammond outlined the goals for the RCOSA’s open space plan in terms of implementing trail systems throughout the county, which included enhancing open space connectivity, providing connections into cities and key destinations, providing trails that feel safe and comfortable for the users, expanding opportunities for recreation and enjoyment of nature, and leveraging future trails to encourage economic development.
Hammond said while placing trails in areas away from future developments can make for a much easier and efficient trail system, looking at areas with room for development brings about the practical issue of putting in trails before future development in order to incorporate them into the planning for the new development.
“It’s also a way of working with the development community to talk about how they can add value to their developments by integrating regional and county trails into their developments, so that it really enhances the value for future residents,” Hammond said.
With the Open Space Plan close to finalization, Rockwall County Commissioner David Magness said the next step will involve cooperation with cities, organizations and individuals throughout the county to begin preserving the prioritized properties outlined in the RCOSA study.
“Now that we’re close to finalizing this open space plan, our mission will be to implement elements of this plan that will improve quality of life for people living here now and for people who are going to live here in the future,” Magness said. “Now the way we do that, we’ll propose leans for acquisitions and for management of the open space system, and we’ll do that through interaction and cooperation with municipalities in the county, public agencies and private organizations and individuals.”
For additional information regarding the open space project, contact RCOSA Vice Chair Nell Welborn at email@example.com or the consultant’s project manager, Kevin Shepherd at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story and photos by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News.
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