A Brief Chronology of What It Takes to Create a Park
Read a story about what determined volunteers and a dedicated community can achieve in creating parklands and award-winning conservation excellence.
- The Blue Hole property is under imminent threat of development – 350 single family residences and a lodge proposed by an Austin developer. Intent on saving this natural, historic resource, new Mayor Steve Klepfer and Councilmember Marilee Wood approached local resident Peter Way to discuss permanent protection for this true Texas treasure. The single most important event in this great preservation story happened during that meeting: Peter Way, speaking on behalf of his entire family, simply said “We’ll do it!” opening the door to protect Blue Hole for future generations.
- The Village of Wimberley and Peter Way reach an agreement in December. He purchases the property, promising to hold it at no profit for two years while the Village of Wimberley embarks on a major fund raising program. The future park is safe.
- Wimberley, a newly incorporated town with an annual budget of about $400,000 and no ad valorum tax, set out to raise $3.1 million dollars to buy a park – a huge first project for a young town!
2004 – 2005
- A task force convenes in January 2004 (Steve Klepfer, Carolyn Nichols, Tevis Grinstead, Peter Way, Marilee Wood) to develop strategies to raise the money and close the sale.
- Great timing ensues for fundraising opportunities and determined supporters –
- $700,000 from Hays County’s recently passed Parks and Open Space Bond
- $1.9 million – Texas Parks and Wildlife
- $150,000 – Burdine Johnson Foundation
- $200,000 – LCRA
- $300,000 – Gala at McCord Old Glory Ranch
- In 16 months, April 2005, the Village pays Peter Way in full and ahead of schedule. The park (all 126 acres) belongs to Wimberley. Peter is officially amazed!
- Friends of Blue Hole is founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated solely to supporting the Blue Hole Regional Park.
- The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is chosen to develop a Master Plan, the $115,000 cost paid by Friends of Blue Hole. An intense planning process takes nearly a year and includes 23 members appointed by the community.
- The Master Plan is approved by the City, under the leadership of Mayor Tom Haley and City Administrator Don Ferguson.
2008 – 2009
- Park construction costs are estimated at $4 million
- Fundraising takes off again:
- Texas Parks and Wildlife – $500,000
- $2 million – Hays County’s new $30 million Parks and Open Space bond issue.
- The search for a designer begins in late 2008 as the City issued a Request for Proposals for the design of Blue Hole Regional Park. The deadline for submission of proposals was February 12, 2009.
- A stakeholder Task Force (Thad Nance – Parks Board, Christine Byrne – Parks Board and resident adjacent to the Park, Bob Kerrigan- tennis, Michael Colca – soccer, Horace Wilson- Parks Board, Marilee Wood – Friends of Blue Hole with moderator Don Ferguson) forms to assist with design.
- The Design Workshop – Austin (Rebecca Leonard and Steven Spears) is selected in early summer 2009, out of 13 bids. At this time, Design Workshop has also been selected by their peers as the leading Landscape Architecture Firm in the USA in 2008 – what a wonderful start!
- Task Force and the Design team hold monthly meetings on the design process. The community participates in a design charrette in October 2009, offering suggestions and ideas for inclusion into the emerging plan for the Park.
- The design of the Park is complete in about a year and is accepted by the City.
- TF Harper is tapped in November for the long-awaited construction.
- Blue Hole Regional Park is chosen as one of 25 pilot projects in the world by the Sustainable Sites Institute. Blue Hole achieved this honor by:
- Using cedar and stone harvested from the park itself, which might otherwise have been carted off to a landfill.
- Constructing a rainwater system to collect runoff from the bath house roof to water landscaping.
- Creating 4 designated creek entry points to remediate stream bank erosion and end the destruction of bald cypress tree roots.
2011 – 2013
- June 2011 – Restoration of historic swimming area. Grand Opening of Phase I includes swimming area, paved parking, bath houses, park office, and picnic area, the Wood/Grinstead Amphitheatre, and the Way Family Overlook, all of which went into immediate use by park that day.
- May / June 2012 – Opening Ceremonies and Grand Opening Phase II reveal the playscape, upland road, sand volleyball court and soccer fields. The Pavilion and restrooms near completion.