The San Benito residents living south of Expressway 77/83 will soon have something they have never had -– a comprehensive park.
What is currently being called Southside Park is nearing completion. The six-acre project is the first phase of what is hoped to be a 12-acre park. The first half of the project will have plenty for residents to enjoy. It will include a splash pad, walking/jogging trail, two soccer fields and exercise equipment. There will also be playgrounds with restrooms and a concession stand, and solar walking trail lights.
“Residents living south of the expressway will no longer have to commute across to another park,” said Art Garza, the director of Parks and Recreation for the city. “It will provide some brand-new facilities and improve the overall quality of life for families.”
The funding for the $1.1-million park project for the six-acre portion comes from multiple sources. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission provided $500,000 of the funding. Nearly $500,000 more in a funding donation comes from the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation. There is another $105,000 from the city’s general fund and $34,207 from the Community Development Block Grant program.
Garza hopes the city can eventually link the new Southside Park with San Benito’s entire park system, along with schools and businesses. The popular Resaca Trail lays across the expressway from the emerging park. Linking them would provide residents with the sort of lengthy hike-and-bike trails found in other Rio Grande Valley cities.
The new soccer fields of the Southside Park will be a significant addition to the city’s park system. At the present time, those sorts of facilities are sparse in San Benito for public use. Garza said the new park will also offer health fairs to raise health and nutrition awareness and free Zumba classes to improve fitness levels.
“It’s exciting and gratifying to move this project along,” Garza said. “It’s a huge accomplishment for the city as this will be the first city-owned park south of the expressway.”
Adding new parks in any city is a costly venture. The cost to cover infrastructure, drainage, construction of an access park and installation of utilities are among the costliest items, Garza said. The city hopes to have the new park completed by the end of summer. According to Garza, the name of the park may be temporary as the City Commission may at some point wish to change it.
“They (City Commission) understand the importance and impact of quality of life projects such as this one (new park) has on our community,” Garza said.