The city of Houston is moving forward with its first-ever community park.

Signs recently went up for Bear Paw Park, which will transform a 36-acre wooded lot near the corner of King Arthur Drive and White Rabbit Court.

“This community needs a place where they can take their children and feel safe. And they’re not on the roadway, they’re not close to a highway,” said Houston Mayor Virgie Thompson.

Right now, all Houston has is a small playground at the Little Susitna Campground and it’s only open in the summer. The city purchased that land from the Mat-Su Borough in January last year for $1.

Robert Briscoe, who was picking up his 7-year-old son, Robert Jr., from school Friday afternoon, says many families in the neighborhood have to travel into Wasilla to go to Wonderland Park. He is happy about the Bear Paw Park coming to Houston.

“It would be a good gathering spot for families, definitely safe because you won’t have to drive as far, and they’d be able to hang out a lot more,” Briscoe said.

Plans for the park include trails through the woods, a bus stop and parking lot, and an inclusive playground.

 

“Children who are in wheelchairs should be able to come down and get on a swing where their wheelchair can go or they can be put in a secure seat where they can swing, where they can go around on a paved area and not have to fight with the wheels of a wheelchair,” Thompson said.

The park will be located in one of Houston’s most populated neighborhoods. As part of the city’s comprehensive plan, residents said they wanted more green space and places to play.

“I’m excited about the trails and a place where kids can play games, they can walk the trails. In the winter they can ski or snowshoe the trails so it’s going to be a year-round park,” said public works clerk Amy Hansen.

Mayor Thompson said fundraising for new equipment and getting everything installed could take a couple years to complete. She estimates the park could cost about $750,000, depending on how much they collect from donations.

The city will rely on grants to fund the project and Thompson says the work will be done in phases as they get the money they need.

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