Mola Lenghi, Arlington Journalist
The City of Arlington is making use of its green space, working on a new 45 acre park on Brown Boulevard just west of Highway 360.
The city is working on a 45-acre park in North Arlington that will showcase its natural crystal rocks, canyons and cliffs.
Arlington is investing more than $500,000 to create trails and benches in Crystal Canyon Natural Area, a piece of land just off Collins Street.
The park will also feature signage with information on the area's history, geology, plants and animals visitors along trails and bridges over three streams that drain into the nearby Trinity River.
"It's not a park that you normally think of as a park, there won't be any playgrounds or anything like that," said Kurt Beilharz, of Arlington's Parks and Recreation Department. "We want to try to minimize the development. We want to minimize the impact to the natural area."
The city will also construct a small parking lot at the entrance that might be the only concrete the city pours to develop the park.
People driving past the future park probably would not notice that Crystal Canyon was once had a homeless encampment, a makeshift BMX bike track or a dumping ground for a few abandoned vehicles.
"It has cliffs on all sides, very steep cliffs," said Mel LeBlanc, the councilman who represents the district where Crystal Canyon is located. "Developers have come in before to try to do projects, but it hasn't worked out for them from an engineering and structural perspective."
"It's fairly rough terrain, but it's beautiful back in there," he said. "You can get back in the middle of the preserve and, especially on a quiet day, ... it's hard to imagine that you're in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country because it's so pretty."
The city's goal is to display what the natural area naturally offers.
"It's what we call passive recreation," Beilharz said. "It's really to get away from the streets and everything else. There's bird watching, hiking, looking at nature -- especially this time of year when we start getting the really nice colors in the trees."
LeBlanc and Beilharz both said that keeping the land natural and undeveloped is good for the development of Arlington.
"Green space and parks are critical to Arlington -- to its ambiance and to its residence," he said. "It's also important for economic development. People want to live in places that have these types of parks and these types of amenities."
"You've got this massive metropolitan area, and it's really important for people to have places like this to come get away from the concrete and the traffic and all that sort of stuff," Beilharz said.