Multimillion-dollar Bellmead leisure center could slip past voters | Local government and politics


The town of Bellmead may soon be asking voters to approve a new multi-million dollar recreation center in the heart of town as part of a scheme to improve leisure options for young people.

At a town council meeting on Tuesday, Bellmead residents expressed interest in a new recreation center next to the Bellmead Civic Center at 3900 Parrish St. and near La Vega High School. The council and mayor also support the idea, said Bellmead city manager Yost Zakhary.

Zakhary said the idea for a leisure center started when he heard people in Bellmead say the children had nothing to do.

“I started hearing about it probably a year and a half ago,” Zakhary said. “I presented it to a board meeting several months ago, as a simple concept, and they unanimously approved to move it forward within a week.”

A proposal submitted Tuesday by CP&Y Engineering showed a two-phase project costing up to $6.5 million, including a 12,000-square-foot building and parking lot in the first phase, along with sports fields and drainage. A second phase would include a new pavilion and restrooms at the sports field complex for approximately $700,000.

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In an interview on Friday, Zakhary said the first phase would have to be reduced to maybe $3 million to be affordable for Bellmead.

Zakhary said the town of Woodway, where he previously served as city manager, is replacing its Woodway Family Center with a new 20,000-square-foot facility for $6.4 million, but he thinks Bellmead can build a smaller facility for much less. A $3 million bond would add about 2 cents to the municipal tax rate, which is now about 36 cents per $100 of assessment, he said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, CP&Y architect and project manager Darrell Vickers said Zakhary had hired his firm to develop an overall concept for the center.

“He had asked us to provide him with a proposal to do more or less some kind of siting study for a potential recreation center,” Vickers said. “He just wanted some visuals to show the board and to really gauge their interest.”

A concept render prepared by CP&Y shows a recreation center near the Bellmead Civic Center and La Vega High School.

Town of Bellmead, provided

Bellmead Leisure Center

A concept render prepared by CP&Y shows a recreation center near the Bellmead Civic Center and La Vega High School.

Town of Bellmead, provided

It will be up to Bellmead Town Council to determine the project’s budget and vote to put the leisure center ahead of voters in a binding election, which could be held in May or November next year, Zakhary said .

Vickers estimated the project would take four months to design and nine months to a year to build.

The recreation center and surrounding areas will house various activities for children to participate in, such as volleyball, basketball and football.

Zakhary said the vision is to have a place within walking distance of Bellmead neighborhoods where young people can enjoy after-school programs and summer camps, especially those who don’t participate in school sports.

“I want to give children an opportunity at an affordable price,” Zakhary said.

The new recreation center is intended to complement, not compete with, La Vega Independent School District and Little League programs, he said.

The city also hopes to remodel part of its civic center, which hasn’t been updated since 2006, Zakhary said. This summer, the city improved the parking lot in front of the civic center.

The Town of Bellmead is also working to create a comprehensive plan to address broader issues in the community, such as poor drainage, traffic lanes and the development of a central business district. The city held a public hearing on Tuesday to get feedback from residents on what they would like to see.

“We are slowly but surely adding things,” Zakhary said.

Zakhary said he has always enjoyed building projects because they have lasting and positive effects on the community.

“It’s worth it in the end,” Zakhary said. “The community benefits from this for a long time. For me, everything revolves around children. What can we do to better serve children, which in turn gives those who don’t have the opportunity to speak for themselves the opportunity to speak up? I always thought I should stand up for the underprivileged or those who can’t speak for themselves.


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