Rob Fleming Park, which is off Gosling Road at the entrance to the first neighborhood of The Woodlands Tx in Harris County, will include a lawn with a pavilion, two playgrounds, a pond, a field of bluebonnets, a ridge with a picnic grove, a boat launch and parking facilities. It will link the entrance to a major new $5 million aquatic facility, which will offer a lazy river, giant slide, an in-water play structure and a lap pool. ""This is an area with a strong outdoor recreation theme, both in theory and in fact,"" said Joel Deretchin, president of The Woodlands Association homeowners board and vice president of public affairs for The Woodlands Development Co. ""Those who live in the village of Creekside Park will have a broad range of recreational opportunities. It harkens back to the original precepts of The Woodlands: greenery and lots of open space.""

Project funding

Municipal Utility District 386, which covers half of the new village, will fund the $4.5 million price tag for the park, while The Woodlands Association and The Woodlands Development Co. will split the $5 million cost of the aquatic center. Unlike The Woodlands parks in Montgomery County, those in Harris County can be funded through municipal utility district funds. A bill that passed the Texas Legislature in 2005 allows up to 1 percent of municipal utility district debt to be used for park development, Deretchin said. In addition to the new park, a letter of intent has been signed with the South Montgomery County YMCA to build a lodge and a fitness center in the new village. The lodge would be used for day camps and outdoor educational opportunities, while the fitness center will have many of the amenities of the traditional YMCA.

The YMCA hopes to acquire a 20-acre site for outdoor activities, including a ropes course, an outdoor theater, themed treehouses and tepees. Those facilities may be available for overnight camping in the future, said Darwin Barnett, director of the South County YMCA. ""The areas that we're in is a complete recreational complex, with the country club tennis courts, the aquatic center and the lake boathouse,"" Barnett said. ""It is going to be a really interesting opportunity for The Woodlands Tx to go outside and enjoy the outdoors.""

The lodge can accommodate up to 500 children for the summer day camp sessions and will be used year-round for outdoor education. The fitness center will include group fitness classes, stretching and cardio equipment. The YMCA also is considering a women's center to cater to those intimidated by large, mixed-gender fitness settings. The YMCA is in the preliminary planning stages and is seeking partners to build the $10 million complex. The lodge is expected to open in 2008, and the fitness center in 2009. Outdoors, the YMCA has planned for themed treehouses, such as an Old Western town or grass huts, Barnett said. Those may be available for family camping.

Park offerings

The new park, named for a Texas Parks and Wildlife naturalist and artist, will be a second major gathering place in the community, similar in size and scope to Northshore Park. The new pavilion facility and sloping lawn area are expected to provide a second concert facility.

The 80-by-80-feet pavilion will also include two new firsts for the community. It will feature a fireplace and a concession stand, as well as attached restrooms. The pavilion will be built in the Craftsman style, which is the common timber and stone fixtures found in many national parks. That theme will be repeated throughout the village. ""We think this will be a wonderful, wonderful amenity for the community,"" said Robert C. Bruce, a TWA board member and manager of recreational facility development for The Woodlands Development Co. ""It is an incredible opportunity for rentals and use beyond what we typically do."" The first children's playground, located adjacent to the pavilion, will be built in three tiers, all designated for different age levels. The younger set will use the lower tier, while swings will be located on the second tier. A climbing structure and overlook will be reserved on the top for older children. At the end of the lawn will be a field of bluebonnets, allowing the community to take advantage of seasonal picture-taking opportunities.

The plan also calls for a 2.5-acre pond - half will be left in its native state with the second half manicured to blend into an urban environment. That formal area will include benches and interpretive signs and statues featuring Fleming artwork of native animal species. Beyond the pond will be the entrance to the aquatic center that sits on the shore of Lake Paloma, a 72-acre lake that stretches through the center of the village. In addition to the aquatic center, the lakeside scene will offer a boat launch and a second children's playground. That playground will include a climbing structure to complement the aquatic center features.

Trail system links

The plan also calls for about 250 parking spaces and access to a trail head to the larger 1,800-acre regional park along Spring Creek, which will be called the George Mitchell Preserve. Because of the size and scope of the preserve, it is expected to be operated by the county and will link with a linear trail system along Spring Creek that will go from FM 2978 to U.S. 59 in Humble.

The county received a $100,000 grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife to build nature trails in the area, and that work is expected to begin soon on the Montgomery County side of the tract, Deretchin said. In addition to Fleming Park, two other parks for Creekside Park Village are in design. Wilde Creek Park is scheduled to open by June and Tupelo Green is scheduled to open in 2008, Bruce said.

The aquatic center that will be built in 2008 will include many new features for The Woodlands. In addition to a large slide structure, it will boast a lazy river, in-water play structure and lap lanes. It will be the 13th pool in The Woodlands and will be available for all pool pass holders in the community. Most of the new park is expected to be complete by October, with the pond and additional parking ready by December.

The contract was awarded to D.L. Macham, who developed East Shore Park as well as entries to Carlton Woods Creekside. " Posted by Tamborrel Bulox Team on

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