Master Plan: Drive, play and drain

Document eyes US 79 loop, more local recreation
Reporter Editor

Master plan calls for extending 1.1-mile-long thoroughfare Murray Avenue eastward to intersect with Ackerman Street (FM 487). 
Reporter/Mike Brown Master plan calls for extending 1.1-mile-long thoroughfare Murray Avenue eastward to intersect with Ackerman Street (FM 487). Reporter/Mike Brown Rockdale’s Planning & Zoning Board is fine tuning a Comprehensive Master Plan, one that attempts to set goals, manage growth—when it finally arrives— and steer the city into the future with a high degree of foresight and advance planning.

The 174-page draft (not final) document contains a lot of generalities.

For instance, its first economic development goal is “pro-actively evaluate economic development opportunities to ensure quality economic development decisions.” And 62 pages—almost one-third of the master plan—are devoted to drainage.

But there are some definite specifics included, many in the areas of transportation and recreation.

The document looks forward to the eventual completion of the postponed US 79 loop north of Rockdale and contains suggestions to help re-orient some city traffic patterns from east-west to north-south.

And the plan terms Rockdale “deficient” in many areas of recreational facilities and “seriously deficient” in adult recreation and recommends substantial upgrades in existing and new facilities, many within one year.

ONLINE—The P& Z Board met Thursday to discuss future steps in preparing the master plan, which was the subject of two recent, sparsely-attended, public sessions at the Patterson Civic Center.

(The Master Plan is available online at Click on “forms and documents” in the box at left, scroll down to “Community Services” and click on “Draft Comprehensive Master Plan.”)

LOOP—While the US 79 Loop, the subject of years of planning and controversy, remains on the Texas Department of Transportation’s inactive project list, the master plan assumes it will eventually be built, making a northern loop about two miles from town.

Correspondingly, FM 487 (Ackerman) and FM 908 (Main), which are part of the state system, will become the major north-south thoroughfares, connecting downtown Rockdale with the loop.

The master plan notes that the major traffic flow in Rockdale is already east-west along US 79 (Cameron Avenue) and the addition of an east-west loop “will tend to exacerbate the situation of east-west development and movement within the city unless convenient north-south thoroughfares and collector streets are constructed.”

In general terms, the draft plan recommends the city “include a system of thoroughfares that will tend to alleviate the circulation problems.”

There’s also a specific recommendation, that Murray Avenue— the major street connecting central and western Rockdale besides US 79, be extended “immediately” from Scarbrough Street to Ackerman Street.

RECREATION—In no area of the master plan are more specific recommendations listed than in parks and recreation.

The document concludes a specific need for more adult recreational facilities stating:

“No public passive (no facilities requiring physical exercise) parks exist in Rockdale for residents who want to read, play chess/checkers, relax or just enjoy nature.”

It also notes Rockdale has no park for very young children, no “dog park” and that none of the current parks have any particular “themes.”

It concludes Rockdale’s swimming pool is built in an antiquated style and is more than 50 years old.

The draft plan recommends the following recreational improvements.

Within one year—Construct passive parks next to City Hall and in Post Oak Place Circle, install lighting at Veterans Park, Sumuel Park and Moultry Park. re-plant turf at all parks, develop a theme for each park.

Within two years— Construct restrooms and install parking at Sumuel Park.

Within two to three years— Construct drainage around tennis courts, Veterans Park.

Within three to five years— Irrigate all parks, “sprayground” and expanded parking at Veterans Park, new sod, fences, backstop at Beverly Drive Softball Field.

Within seven years—Construct linear parks in drainage areas.

Within 10 years—Construct “sprayground” at Patterson Center, install restrooms at skate plaza, install playscape at Fair Park.

Within 10-15 years—Construct an indoor recreation center after acquiring land or vacant building, pave parking at Moultry Park, construct a dog park next to animal control center.

Within 15-18 years—Work with Rockdale ISD on constructing a soccer field at high school.

Within 20 years—Construct (acquire land) an aquatics center, construct “sprayground” at skate park, construct (acquire land) a young children’s park.

MORE OF PLAN—Data and/ or recommendations, were also made in the areas of quality of life, economic development, future land use, residential development, new residential development and infrastructure and utilities.

As might be expecected, since it was prepared by a Planning & Zoning Board, the plan contains an exhaustive listing of Rockdale’s zoning regulations.

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2012-11-22 digital edition

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