Frisco, Texas – In an atmosphere brimming with anticipation, the realization of a highly awaited municipal initiative appears tantalizingly imminent.
On June 5, a convocation of residents, both local and remotely, assembled under the shared umbrella of a Frisco town hall meeting. The presiding central figure was Shannon Coates, the director of Frisco Parks and Recreation Department, who unveiled, via a pre-filmed video, an eagerly anticipated update on the Grand Park project.
As elucidated by Coates in her video discourse, the conceptual blueprints for the park will unfurl their veils to public scrutiny on the 16th of June, marking a milestone in the project’s progression.
It was during the spring of this year, precisely on April 4, that the city council members signaled the project’s official commencement by sanctioning a contract, valued at an impressive $394,000, with the renowned international design firm, Ideo. This formidable alliance has been assigned the Herculean task of designing a sprawling expanse of 275 acres, a mission that is envisaged to unfold in a quartet of distinct, sequentially arrayed phases.
The inaugural phase of this colossal endeavor, entitled “Research and Prototype”, is earmarked for extensive investigation and preliminary model creation. Thereafter, the project will transition into the “Synthesize and Design” stage, a complex process which entails the integration of research findings with innovative design concepts. The subsequent phase, “Refine and Communicate”, is dedicated to finessing the design and effectively transmitting the vision to all pertinent stakeholders. The final phase, aptly named “Advise and Implement”, is geared towards guiding the execution of the master plan, while ensuring optimal implementation and operational readiness.
This monumental initiative’s comprehensive roadmap promises an extraordinary blend of astute research, creative design, meticulous refinement, and streamlined execution, all converging to bring to life a civic landmark that is Grand Park.
In an unbroken continuum spanning almost a decade, with the lone exception of 2018, Grand Park has steadfastly retained its position on the annual catalogue of the council’s most urgent priorities.
An initial glimpse into the expansive domain of Grand Park was made accessible to the public in November with the inauguration of the Big Bluestem Trail. According to Mayor Jeff Cheney, the unveiling of this 2.2-mile trail was strategized not only to allow residents a sneak peek of the terrain but also to catalyze ideation regarding the future of the park.
“The trail that’s currently in Grand Park is what we would consider a beta stage of Grand Park,” Cheney said. “It was really just designed for people to be able to start experiencing and understanding the scale of the property and … help them with the process that we’re going through.”
As for the present scenario, a productive symbiosis of Ideo-led workshops and a community survey, which has already elicited over 200 responses, is providing the designers with a wealth of insights, helping them curate their concepts for the park’s future, as communicated by Coates.
In its nascent stages, the visions for the park incorporate strategies to conserve the area’s indigenous ecosystem. Coates mentioned the identification of areas overrun by invasive species as potential conversion sites for parking. Additionally, a conscious decision to preserve untouched sections of the Blackland Prairie illustrates a commitment to maintain the natural balance, even as the area transforms into a public park.
“The preservation of ecology and having those strong nature-based art is one of the things that keeps coming up,” Coates said.
On June 16, when the designers present their master plan, members of the public will have the additional privilege of previewing prototypes of park amenities and structures at an exhibition housed within the Frisco Public Library.
“Those items will be displayed in the library for approximately a week so that we can invite the community and to experience what they’ve been working on,” Coates said.
Mayor Cheney further illuminated one salient feature of the park: a comprehensive network of trails designed to intimately connect residents to the city. Upon completion of this grand endeavor, inhabitants will possess the capability to cycle from the park to multiple city landmarks, including Lake Lewisville, The Star, and the Rail District.
“A big vision of Grand Park is making [the park] the heartbeat of Frisco,” Cheney said. “There’s going to be a lot of arteries that go out to other parts of our cities through the trail network.”
A full recording of the June 5 town hall can be found on the city’s official Facebook page.