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BERTRAM — When Bertram Economic Development Corp. president Mike Richardson looks around the one-time state roadside park on the west side of Bertram, he sees a place that could keep families from dashing to other communities on weekends.

“I’m guilty of it as well,” Richardson said. “I’ll load the kids up and go to Burnet or another town so the kids can use the parks. That means we’ll probably eat at the McDonald’s there and shop at the Burnet dollar store.”

And that means money leaving Bertram for other locales. But thanks to a $21,500 Community Development Partnership grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and the Pedernales Electric Cooperative for playground equipment, things could look different for the small community, in general, and this piece of land, in particular. The Bertram EDC will use the money to put in a new playscape and add a welcome sign on the property adjacent to the city pool.

The land, located in the 700 block of Vaughan Street, had previously been a state-owned roadside park, but when the Texas Department of Transportation closed it down, the state deeded the property to the city.

While a playground or a new playscape sounds pretty basic, Richardson said it can have a major impact on Bertram’s economy.

“Right now, on weekends, a lot of families get up and go to other communities such as Burnet or even Georgetown for their parks,” he said. “By developing this park and others, we can create something that will keep them here on weekends.”

While the city does have two to three events such as the Oatmeal Festival and a Christmas festival that draw people into Bertram, the economic impact is minimal compared to what residents can do on a more regular basis.

“The worst thing is when people get up and go somewhere else,” Richardson said.

Richardson pointed out when Bertram residents take advantage of other towns’ amenities, money is leaving with them. And that’s a problem, considering the relatively small tax base and associated revenues Bertram has.

Every dollar the community keeps in town counts, he added.

Parks give families something to do in Bertram, so they don’t have to go elsewhere.

“Improving our parks has been something (the EDC has) been working on for several years,” Richardson. “Right now, we really only have this small playscape (by the pool) and a small playground at the (Bertram Elementary) School.”

The EDC has a bigger vision for the park as well, which could include a small skate park and a possible pool expansion.

The city also received another land donation in another area, which Richardson said could mean expansion of the baseball and softball fields and a possible soccer field.

Along with the Bertram EDC grant, the LCRA awarded funds to the Cottonwood Shores Volunteer Fire Department for use in adding a pavilion onto the existing fire station and to the Briggs Volunteer Fire Department to use in building a rainwater collection system.