MOODY — Members of David Scott’s family have been coming to Mother Neff State Park since before it became a part of the Texas State Park System in the 1930s.
“My dad’s family is cousins with the first caretakers of the park. They lived on the park grounds,” said Scott, a member of the Coryell County Historical Commission. “Before it was designated a park, it was called the Neff picnic grounds. Mother Neff would just let people who lived in the area come down and just picnic and they’d have church socials.”
Scott said he’s anxious to see improvements to the park, which has received extensive flood damage throughout the decades.
Officials broke ground at the state’s first park Saturday, marking the beginning of a $6.5 million redevelopment project.
Improvements to the park, which opened in 1937, will help address the recurring flooding of the Leon River along the park’s lower reaches, inundating the recreation hall and park entrance. Construction will include adding a new headquarters building and new campground with 20 full-hookup campsites and other amenities.
Redevelopment at the 400-acre park in Moody will include a new park entrance, maintenance area, restroom with showers and new roads. It’s expected to be completed by August 2015. Brent Leisure, Texas State Parks director, said since the park was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, there is very little that can be done to improve upon the vision of the state’s forefathers.
“What we try to do is incorporate a design that meets the needs and expectations of Texans today in a manner that compliments the landscape and the historic structure and setting that you find here at Mother Neff,” Leisure said. “What that includes is great transparency, public meeting and incorporating the influence of so many people.”
Leisure said it’s important for residents to pass on the torch of stewardship to the next generation. “When this is complete, I hope you’ll take the time to bring your child out here and that they might be able to dip their feet in the waters of the Leon River, (sit) underneath the shade trees, hike the trails and camp under the stars,” he said.