Irving looks to the past while embracing the future for new generations.
Heritage Park celebrated its 30th birthday in July 2016, and now the City of Irving Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and the Parks and Recreation departments are looking to breathe new life into the historic park.
City staff has met with the community and advisory boards several times during the past year for feedback on possible changes to the park. While a number of changes have been incorporated into the new concept design, Irving City Council will make the final decision on the project’s development.
Heritage Park sits predominately on one side of a city block, and the possible redevelopment design would bridge the two sides. At one time, the sides were divided by an alleyway, as well as several buildings and adjacent commercial properties. In 2011 and 2016, the city purchased the land and demolished the remaining structures.
The park, which houses some of the city’s most prominent historic landmarks, has expanded to cover a continuous city block with Second Street to the north, Third Street to the south, and Main and Hastings streets to the east and west. Four of the structures on the property would be repositioned to a different location within the park — with the exception of Caster Cabin — and new structures and amenities would be built or added onto existing structures.
The caboose and train depot would be relocated to sit parallel with Hastings Street. The caboose would rest on its current train tracks, surrounded by a low ornamental fence and lighting for additional protection. A paving stone walk would be installed along Hasting Street to resemble train tracks heading into the horizon. The park also would include an outdoor amphitheater, as well as a historic building, which would help cement the location as a historic and recreational destination.
Caster Cabin currently backs up to Second and Main streets. While the cabin’s location is not envisioned to change, the site around it would be enhanced to mimic a windmill’s radial fan blades. The area would be renamed ‘Pioneer Plaza,’ and would include native grasses around the site and low vertical monuments that would pay homage to influential families from Irving’s early communities.
The proposed plan would replace the wooden gazebo, which has surpassed its lifespan, with a larger, steel gazebo, and set it back toward the center of the park directly behind a proposed fountain feature and entry plaza. The original library building would be moved closer to the corner of Main and Third streets. It would feature an elevated wooden deck in the back with tables for seating. The deck would sit under large shade trees and serve as a small stage for musical acts, weddings and a rest area. It also would anchor a garden terrace. Adjacent to the terrace, food truck parking spaces would offer dining for special events, as well as park visitors.
The city’s original water tower currently stands nearly a third shorter than it did in its prime. The landmark would be restored to its original height atop the restroom and mechanical building to increase its visibility and serve as a monument for the garden terrace. Other park amenities would include additional parking, open greenspace, pedestrian lighting, benches, Wi-Fi and increased visibility from all four sides of the park for added security.
Pending council’s adoption of the proposed redevelopment plan, the project would likely be constructed in phases after funding has been approved. In the near future, residents may see activity in the area with the planting of five additional mature trees from an offsite road improvement project. Minor concrete curb improvements also may take place around the perimeter of the park.
For more information, watch the ICTN video on the potential park improvements: