Overcast skies didn’t dampen spirits Monday at the grand opening of Goode-Connell Park, the city’s newest recreational area at 110 E. Beeline Road.

Mayor Mike Aycock said the Goode and Connell families, which donated the land for the park, are part of the “train” that pulls Harker Heights.

“Their donation of these 14 acres in what was at one time supposed to be the center of Harker Heights, is a real boost to the community, and I want to thank the families for what they do,” Aycock said.

The Goode and Connell families cut ceremonial ribbons and remembered their family patriarchs in remarks to the crowd gathered for the ceremony.

“Both Ted Connell and my father, Paul Goode, were developers of sorts and when Mr. Bark and Mr. Carpenter came to us with their long range plans for the city, we felt it would benefit the rest of the area,” John Paul Goode said. “There were some water problems down the way that needed to be addressed, but they also needed some revitalization efforts for the children in the area. We donated the land in 2005 and this park is more than I could have hoped for. It’s a really nice addition to the neighborhood.”

Fort Hood resident Amanda Henning and her 2-year-old daughter, Nadine, came out to try the new playground.

“I like this park because it has shades over the playground, so it will be our regular spot instead of Carl Levin Park,” Henning said.

Getting children out is what the park is all about, Councilman Pat Christ said.

“I’m a big proponent of parks where children can play and use their imagination. Not necessarily do activities guided by adults, but somewhere they can create their own fun in a safe environment.”

The park features walking trails, a playground, practice areas for soccer and baseball and climbing boulders.

“We still have a couple of acres to design, and in about a year will be polling the citizens who use the park and see what they’d like to see in it as the park matures,” said Jerry Bark, parks and recreation director.

City Manager Steve Carpenter said through grants, private and public partnerships, the city has been able to put about $80 million worth of infrastructure into the city in the past 12 years.

Meeting the goal of residents and the city was done with insightful planning for the Goode-Connell Park.

“Part of what needs to be fixed in this area was drainage problems, and parks are a good answer for areas that have drainage issues,” Christ said.

Herald/ Kathryn Leisinger

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