parks

The Killeen Fort Hood Regional Trail in District 4.

District 4 has been the fastest growing district in the city in recent years. It has the second most registered voters with 22,353 and is where many of the city’s new houses are being built.

But with all the residents, the area lags far behind in city parks or green space. According to Killeen’s city website, Iduma Neighborhood Park and Fort Hood Regional Trail are the only formal city-owned parks in District 4, which overs west Killeen. District 1 has 11 parks, District 2 has six and District 3 has seven city parks.

Iduma Park in District 4, at 4400 Foster Lane, sits adjacent to Iduma Elementary School. It features an open play area, pavilion rentals and picnic and play units. When viewed from the road it looks like it is a part of the school.

The Fort Hood Regional Trail is, as the name implies, a multi-use trail. The paved wide trail stretches for just over a mile from Watercrest Road to Robinett Road. There is no parking lot to access it at either end.

The lack of parks in the district has not gone unnoticed by the candidates vying to represent Western Killeen on the City Council.

“I”m going to be advocating for a large park,” District 4 candidate Michael Boyd said during a recent May 20 interview with KDH. “We need something larger than Long Branch or Lions Park perhaps to facilitate recreational services out there.”

Boyd is running against incumbent Steve Harris in a second election after their May 1 City Council race ended in a tie. While the two didn’t agree on all the issues, they both agreed the district could use more parks.

“We actually need one over here because we are the most populated area and we have the least amount of amenities for our area,” Harris said in the May 20 video. “Parks and even green space is what I’m looking at.”

In an email to the Herald on Wednesday Harris said he has consistently been a voice for green space while serving as a council member for District 4. He pointed to his outgoing plaque from his first term in 2015-2017.

“Your work to create a better community through improving building standards and enforcement, and increasing quality of life amenities has resulted in change,” the plaque from the city read.

He pointed to several agenda item requests he submitted during his first two terms, as well as his voting record.

“I have consistently voted down large scale developments to preserve green space as well as, of course, and as balanced ratio between emergency services and the population,” Harris said.

In August 2017, Harris submitted an item to discuss a temporary stop of residential home platting and construction.

“It was a drastic step but one I believed necessary due to the unbalanced growth,” Harris said in the email.

Harris also said he brought up the issue during a joint meeting with KISD which led to the public utilization of greenspace at some KISD properties.

Finally, Harris said he has consistently fought for builders to have and leave some dedicated green space in new developments.

“At current, staff is working on creating and, eventually, bringing forth this item before the council for discussion,” Harris said.

Along with the Comprehensive Plan for Killeen, the city is currently forming its Parks Master Plan. The most recent master plan was created in 2017 and serves as a how-to guide for providing access to park land and recreational activities.

Boyd was appointed to serve on the Killeen Parks Master Plan Workgroup which had its first meeting in December.

“I learned that there are a total of 26 parks across Killeen,” Boyd said by email Thursday. “Unfortunately, District 4 hosts only two parks. Being one of the largest and fastest growing districts in Killeen, a large park and added green-space are a necessity at this point.”

The biggest question may be where to put the park.

Harris acknowledged that with the increased development over the last few years, space to put a Lions Club-sized park in the area is diminishing.

“Knowing now that there is a lot less space for community center type facilities and, or a good size of adequate greenspace is shrinking, I am, if necessary, willing to present the possibility of the city purchasing land from developers to allow for a re-investment in the land that is present in more large scales,” Harris said in his email.

At a campaign event on Friday, Boyd said he would like to see the park off of Clear Creek Road.

If the city is able to find the space, finding funding may not be as easy. Budget season is looming and fixing the city’s aging roads are top-of-mind for most residents.

During the video interview Boyd said he would advocate for the park, “but at the same time understanding we can’t take away from the immediate needs of the other districts. Some of those things will take time but I will be absolutely advocating for that large park.”

Harris did not answer the question directly regarding funding, but did discuss the city purchasing land from developers.

The city is encouraging residents to become a part of the planning process by attending workshops and giving input. The next workshop will be on June 7 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Rosa Hereford Killeen Community Center, 2201 East Veterans Memorial Boulevard.

The meeting will discuss and share recommendations so far, parkland dedication ordinance, operations and maintenance plan and parkland conditions assessment.

“We are truly working hard through this plan to address deferred maintenance/un-activated parks in our system, while also addressing park deficiencies within districts,” Executive Director of Recreation Services Joe Brown said by email Thursday.

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