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Alton receives more funding for $1.5 million park expansion

A Harlingen base non-profit organization has awarded nearly half a million to the city of Alton to expand their most popular park.

During their Aug. 14 city commission meeting, Alton assistant City Manager Jeff Underwood announced that the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation awarded the city of Alton a $499,796 grant to assist the city in expanding the Josefa Garcia Memorial Park from five acres to 55 acres.

20180406 Alton City Park Rendering“It makes it easier on everyone frankly, it lets us stretch our money a little bit more,” Underwood said.

The Legacy Foundation works with cities and organizations to promote healthy lifestyles, Underwood said. He added that the grant money from the foundation can be used to purchase outdoor workout equipment and playground equipment.

As reported last fall, the city is looking into expanding the park to address an expected growth in population on the city’s east side and a lack of space at Sylvia Vela Park.

Located on the corner of Bryan and Mile 5 Road, the Josefa Garcia Memorial Park is well known in the community. It is adorned with 21 crosses and a statue of Jesus to commemorate the 21 victims on a Mission school district bus who were killed in 1989 after the bus was struck by a delivery truck, sending it over to a flooded caliche pit.

With the expansion, the city is interested in highlighting the natural landscape of the park which will have a splash pad, soccer fields, exercise stations, natural hike and bike trails and overlooks for bird watching and native shade trees, Underwood said.

When the city first announced the expansion, they had budgeted the project at $1.5 million, which would be split between the funds raised from the city and the City of Alton Development Corporation and a grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“We’re talking about a project that’s now a little bit bigger than we originally thought it’d be,” Alton City Manager Jorge Arcaute said. “We haven’t approached the CADC board to make a final contribution so the final budget of the project could be closer to $1.75 million.”

“We expect to be in construction by the beginning of 2019,” Arcaute said.

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