James McKnight Park West in Mansfield has remained largely untouched since it opened nearly 35 years ago. That’ll soon change as the Mansfield Parks and Recreation Department has been awarded a $750,000 non-urban outdoor recreation grant for the park from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. In its January meeting, the TPWC approved $9.9 million in competitive grants for city and county park projects from across the state, funding 20 of 52 eligible requests.
“We are absolutely thrilled with this announcement and so grateful to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission for sharing our vision for this well-established but under-developed park,” said Matt Young, Executive Director of Community Services said in a press release. “Not only does this project serve a huge range of ages and interests, it truly checks all the boxes for our mission as an organization: providing welcoming spaces for residents to gather together, fitness opportunities to grow healthy families, preservation of precious natural, green spaces and lots of exciting new ways for residents of all ages to play.”
This is the first Texas Parks and Wildlife grant for the park since the state organization funded its initial development 35 years ago. While heavily used as a major trailhead for the Walnut Creek Linear Trail, the park, located at 302 N. Wisteria St., has remained largely untouched since its opening and has no recreational opportunities for residents.
In the 2020 Mansfield Parks and Recreation Master Plan, improvements to McKnight West were identified as the fourth highest priority for the southwest quadrant of the city based on community feedback and needs assessments. Before the funding announcement this project was the highest unfunded item on that list.
The exact amenities and layout will be determined during the planning process and after a series of public engagement opportunities starting this spring to get current feedback from residents and stakeholders.
The Parks and Wildlife Commission grant will be federally funded through the Land & Water Conservation Fund, which requires a 50 percent matching contribution from the city. The total cost for the improvements at James McKnight Park West are estimated at $2.1 million. The required matching funds for the grant will come from the city’s half-cent sales tax fund.