Frisco targets safety improvements at Meadow Creek Park
Despite a blanket of snow draped over Frisco’s parks, many community members are still trying to make the most of the amenities, spreading out on the frozen lawns to let their dogs run or making their way to a pond to skate.
But the town is continuing to invest in park improvements in hopes of providing an even better experience this summer as the myriad residents and visitors again make their way outside to sprawl out in the grass and climb on the playgrounds. This year, Frisco’s focus is on Meadow Creek Park.
In 2019, Frisco officials adopted the Neighborhood Parks Master Plan, a guiding document that outlines community priorities for park improvements at four primary locations: Walter Byron Park, Meadow Creek Park, Pioneer Park and Old Town Hall Park.
In October last year, the town cut the ribbon on $750,000 worth of improvements at Walter Byron Park, the first phase of the master plan implementation that included a new playground and year-round restroom facilities. The town’s capital plan initially called for another $750,000 investment into park improvements each year through 2024, according to Town Manager Nancy Kerry. But that number dropped to $200,000 in 2021 due to more conservative funding estimates caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Town Planner Susan Lee presented improvement concepts to Frisco Town Council members during a regular work session discussion Tuesday, Jan. 26, and identified two projects the town could complete this year — both with a price tag of about $200,000.
The first was to continue with work at Walter Byron Park, including remodeling the gazebo, constructing a wetland viewing deck, installing overhead lighting and creating additional seating areas along Tenmile Creek, among other items. The second concept included enhancements to safety and security at Meadow Creek Park, which essentially would improve lighting along pathways and picnic areas, and clear out some of the landscaping to enhance sightlines into the park.
The council ultimately decided to prioritize the Meadow Creek project.
“My thought is to move forward with safety and Meadow Creek,” council member Jessie Burley said. “Walter Byron, I could see an argument for completing it because it was such a cool project. It’s also such a cool project the way it is today, that I think we need to give a little love and attention to Meadow Creek and get that one up to par. That one is seriously hurting and does have some safety concerns.”
Frisco Police Chief Tom Wickman said his officers respond to safety calls in the area fairly regularly, primarily due to individuals getting off a bus at the Frisco Transfer Center next door and immediately making their way to the park. Since the beginning of 2020, the department has responded to 62 calls in the area, many dealing with suspicious people and illegal camping.
“We’re seeing people who are hanging out in that park that are maybe not using it for its intended purpose, which is recreation — playing on the playground, fishing on the pond, running on the grass to take your dog for a stroll,” Frisco’s Communications Director Vanessa Agee said. “They’re using that pavilion to drink and potentially take illegal substances.
“Unfortunately, there are also people who are dealing with not having a stable home and a place to live. That’s a problem certainly around the county, and people look for places to camp. It’s an inherently awkward and difficult thing for a person facing problems with housing and the people who live in the area. A park is just not compatible with residential living. … Finding places that are compatible with someone facing homelessness and the people who live in the area, finding that harmony is incredibly important for both parties.”
Wickman said the plans for improved lighting and sightlines through the area could help to alleviate concerns for visitors to the park.
While the Town Council did decide to push forward with Meadow Creek Park improvements, community members likely will still see additional work being done at Walter Byron this spring, as well.
Frisco’s Grounds Foreman Chris Johnson said new “nature play” equipment already has been delivered to the town and his team will install it.
There also will be continued work on the new restroom facilities at Walter Byron Park. Johnson explained that there is a considerable amount of water running under the park. While the building itself is solid — it’s built on helical piers, essentially giant screws meant to support structures on challenging ground conditions — the flat work around the building, like the sidewalk and plaza foundation, is “undulating and shifting.”
Farrington Construction Management, which was contracted to provide last year’s park update, will return in the spring or summer to work on the substructure in the area in an effort to reduce the concrete movement, Johnson said.
Council members voiced a strong desire to see if it would be possible to complete improvements to both parks this year and decided to return to the conversation during an upcoming budgeting discussion in March.
“I’m guardedly optimistic enough that I think we can do both,” council member Dan Fallon said. “We can address the safety concerns at Meadow Creek, and do those right away, and finish Walter Byron at the same time. I don’t think it’s an overreach or irresponsible in any regard. … I think it’s a good way to move forward.”
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