Change is good. At least, that’s the case these days for Churchill Park near Forest and Hillcrest, which is soon to undergo renovations.

The project, beginning late this summer, is being funded – to the tune of $771,000 – by the 2003 bond program.

The improvements will be completed in two phases. Phase one includes some basic improvements completed by the park maintenance staff, including repairing the tennis and basketball courts, new fencing around the softball fields, and re-striping and renovating the parking lot to provide for three wheelchair accessible ramps.

Most of the improvements, however, will be handled by the Dallas Parks and Recreation Development Division and project manager Raul Acosta. Design and construction costs for this second phase total around $600,000 and will go toward various site drainage improvements, a six-foot wide perimeter loop walking trail, security lighting, drinking fountains, playground repair and a new picnic pavilion and tables. Completion of the entire project is expected in early 2006.

Senior Park Planner Michael Hellman is perhaps most excited about the new pavilion. The old one, he says, is “out-dated, ugly and concrete.”

A neighborhood meeting yet to be scheduled will allow residents to have input on designs before the construction team get too far into the process. Community input, Hellman says, will play a major role in helping ensure the finalized pavilion design is “compatible with the surrounding community. It won’t be a cookie-cutter pavilion; it will be a custom pavilion, designed to coordinate with the other improvements.”

The walking trail is another important part of the project. Says Hellman: “Perimeter loop walking trails have been really popular in the parks that we’ve added.” Once again, the final design is not complete, he says, and will possibly incorporate input from community meetings.

Although it will be awhile before local residents will be able to see the final product, Hellman already is applauding what he calls “a pretty good face lift for the park.”

“It is quite clear that people want our parks to be well-maintained facilities that they would want to go to,” he says. “What is the point of having a park if no one want to go to it? One of the goals is to make the park a better place for people to go, and user-ship should improve with that.”

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