A new skate park, a dog park with a splash pad, and more hike-and-bike trails are all nearing reality in McKinney.

The city’s Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department is developing a number of new parks and programs for the public to enjoy. And, whether you’re a newcomer or a longtime McKinney resident, the parks department is working to offer something to appeal to everyone.

A recently completed example is the new tennis complex at Gabe Nesbitt Community Park (featured in McKinney Magazine’s April/May 2012 issue).

The next time you visit The Courts at Gabe Nesbitt or other areas within this park off Eldorado Parkway, you’ll notice that construction is under way for the next big project: two more baseball fields and, in what is sure to be a jewel in the city’s crown of recreational facilities, an exciting and spectacularly designed skate park.

The skate park is one of the most-anticipated projects undertaken by the city in years. McKinney’s youngsters have long requested such a place, and after initial delays over design and location, everything fell into place.

Those who ride skateboards and bicycles are thrilled that construction is progressing, and they look forward to the skate park being open and “wheel-ready” in early 2013.

Skaters’ Design Ideas

Adding to the excitement surrounding the opening is the fact that area skaters were asked to provide ideas and input, which park designers then incorporated.

In fact, McKinney ISD student Devon Babjac won a contest to contribute plans for a dream park based on his own skating experiences. His opinions and expertise were put to good use, as were ideas from dozens of other skaters.

 “It was a very collaborative process,” said Steve Brainerd, Parks Development Superintendent. “The kids spoke in great detail with the designers, and we highly value this kind of public input.”

Mike Nate, a sixth-grader at Evans Middle School, is among the hundreds of young McKinney residents who can’t wait for the park to open.

“It sounds like so much fun!” Nate says. “I know I’ll go there a lot — I’m really looking forward to it.”

The $2 million skate park, paid for with bond funding, will have two main areas, a “streetscape” and a “bowl.”

The streetscape will include things that are fun to skate on — but often off-limits, including rails, ramps, flat concrete straight-aways, etc. The other main area will feature several bowls, all constructed with swimming pool-style, high-strength coping.

The skate park also will have amphitheater-style viewing areas, spaces for socializing, and a convenient drop-off area and adjacent parking lot. An added feature not found in other nearby parks is “the volcano,” a steeply graded, multi-sided object that will allow skaters to ride up steep sides and practice turning and riding down.

Tail-Wagging Dog Park

Near the skate park, construction is also under way on McKinney’s first dog park. Dog owners know that specific parks for their pets are fast becoming popular types of open areas.

In keeping with this trend, McKinney is including a dog park within a larger, comprehensive park near the northeast corner of Virginia Parkway and Hardin Road.

The dog park will occupy four choice acres in the new 20-acre Bonnie Wenk Park. In addition to a landscaped pond, concession stand and restrooms, the park will feature the first “doggie splash pad” in Texas. Although the park is being developed, it still has a natural beauty and a pleasant, country feel.

The dog park is expected to open in April 2013 as part of Bonnie Wenk Park’s first phase.

Hike-And-Bike Extension

 Two-legged park enthusiasts will be excited about the expansion of the network of hike-and-bike trails that lace their way through some of the city’s most scenic areas.

A trail currently under construction near the Bonnie Wenk site will go under Virginia Parkway and soon connect Towne Lake with Boyd High School, permitting miles of unimpeded and traffic-free hiking and biking.

The hike-and-bike trail and bridges at Bonnie Wenk are being installed thanks to approximately $635,000 in McKinney Community Development Corporation funding and will open in fall 2012, city officials say.

Two of the variables cited as a quality-of-life measure in a community are the accessibility and variety of recreational activities. McKinney is making great strides as it works to bring these new parks online. Ready for more outdoor enjoyment? Coming right up!

 For more information about the city's plans for its parks and open space, please visit http://www.mckinneytexas.org/parksdevelopment/.


About the author: Christopher Foster is a writer and photographer living in McKinney. He was a member of one of the first competitive skateboard teams in Texas in the 1970s and, along with those several decades his junior, he’s looking forward to McKinney’s new skate park.