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Granite Shoals lands $100K parks grant despite state funding freeze

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

GRANITE SHOALS — The City of Parks learned Jan. 24 that state officials want to help the community live up to its name.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved a $100,000 grant for Granite Shoals’ Quarry Park, which is located on the same property where city hall sits.

“This grant funds the top three identified outdoor recreational improvements and allows the city to next focus on remaining needed priorities,” acting City Manager Ken Nickel said. “This particular grant will build low-maintenance assets for the city and will provide Granite Shoals residents and visitors with new amenities without spending tax dollars. That’s an exceptional opportunity.”

The money is part of $1.3 million the parks and wildlife commission awarded. The money came from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is appropriated annually by Congress.

Charles Watkins of Grant Development Services, the city’s grant consultant, said the funds will be used for several projects, but one of the main ones includes building two regulation-sized tennis courts.

“We’re going to renovate one of the (steel) buildings on the property and build covered courts,” he said.

The Roddick Foundation, which is constructing its tennis center at Quarry Park, has committed $60,000 in matching funds, Watkins said.

Mayor Dennis Maier said the grant has been a product of city, organizations and businesses coming together for the community.

“The city is grateful for the organizations and businesses that stepped up to make this grant possible,” he said.

Along with the foundation and grant, H.D. Irvin Steel Construction of Granite Shoals is donating $12,800 for metal work to fix up one of the old quarry buildings for the tennis courts. Other groups and individuals who have donated time and assistance include the Highland Lakes Master Gardeners and architect Marley Porter.

Gandolf Burris of Grant Development Services also has worked hand in hand with city staff to submit grant applications over the years, Watkins said.

This grant isn’t something city staff just heard about, applied for and received.

“This has been a long-term planning effort,” Watkins said. “The first attempt was for a much larger amount, but we didn’t have our master plan completed.”

He said in competitive grants such as this one, requests earn points based on factors included in the application.

Quarry Park, which is about 131 acres, will include many amenities when completed such as the Leo Manzano Hike, Bike and Run Trails.

Manzano grew up in Granite Shoals and is an Olympic silver medalist in the men’s 1,500-meter race.

Watkins said this grant also will go toward constructing the park’s information center and a wildflower conservatory as well as the trails and tennis courts.

“This grant is a tremendous benefit to the city,” Watkins said. “We really weren’t expecting any more grants. The (state) legislature sequestered state park funds in 2010. They still haven’t loosened any additional funding, so to get this grant, which is federal money, is really important.”

daniel@thepicayune.com