It's a nature lover's paradise, a 58-acre environmentally sensitive natural preserve in Arlington that many people don't know about. The city is hoping to change that.
Arlington has begun development of the Southwest Nature Preserve just south of I-20 on Bowman Springs Road.
"It's one of the things that attracted us to the area," said Jaquetta Davis. "We find it very serene and attractive."
Arlington has launched a project that aims to make the hidden and undisturbed park more accessible by adding a 35-space parking lot, a concrete walkway from the lot to a new boardwalk that will cling to one of the several ponds and lead to a fishing pier, picnic tables, benches and a terrace.
In a press release, the city of Arlington noted that, "the Nature Preserve has approximately one mile of non-accessible existing soft surface trails that circle the property. Many of the existing trails within the Preserve are suffering from the effects of erosion and will require extensive restoration work."
All of the nearly $800,000 in upgrades, from parking lots to park benches, will add dynamics to the unfettered preserve that never existed.
Park-goers previously had to park on the street along Bowman Springs Road, that’s if they noticed that the preserve was there at all.
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But its secluded nature is what those who live near and go to the park like most about it, hoping that it remains that way after the development.
"As long as [the construction] is done with restraint and tastefully done, I think it's something that should be shared with more people because [Arlington] is an urban environment and most people don't have access to that type of natural resource," said Davis.
Keeping it natural will be the challenge as well as the goal.
"We love [the preserve]. It's really fun to go back there and walk around and explore the nature back there," said Brandon Zegarelli, who grew up going to the preserve with his friends.
Like many who live near and use the preserve, Zegeralli said he has always liked how it's been tucked away and hidden from the rest of the world. But now, like Davis, he is ready to start sharing it.
"The selfish side of me wants to keep it less disturbed so I can use it for myself but that wouldn't be right, people should be able to enjoy it," said Zegeralli.
"Not too many – no it’s ours," joked Davis. "No, I agree with that. I think people should know, it gives character to Arlington."
The additions to the Southwest Natural Preserve are expected to be completed by May 2013.