City of Early gathers citizens' input on Town Center
EARLY — City officials are taking residents' input on the recreational amenities they desire in the future Town Center.
About 30 residents attended a public hearing Thursday night and ranked batting cages, an outdoor stage and walking trail as their top three choices for the recreational use area of the Town Center. Residents were asked to place small stars on display boards to rank 18 possible amenities.
Residents are also asked to give their opinions on a survey by clicking a link on the City of Early’s Facebook page.
Additional information on the Town Center is also available on the city's Facebook page.
In 2020, the Early Municipal Development District purchased 65 acres of land that runs adjacent to the Pecan Bayou. The decision was made to develop that land into the Town Center, stretching from the Old May Road east to the Pecan Bayou.
Plans are to develop about 25 acres of the property for recreational use, with the remainder of the property developed for stores, restaurants and offices.
Early City Administrator Tony Aaron said the Town Center will be developed based on phased timelines. “I would hope that the (recreational use area) would be open to the public within the next 12 to 16 months,” Aaron said.
The focus of Thursday night’s public hearing was “to try to draw people’s attention to the recreational component of this project,” Aaron said. “Our overall goal was to get people to look at potential amenities that could be in this park and then provide us input on what they think they would be interested in seeing … not just what we think.
“What’s really interesting about this place is, it’s going to provide a very large open space for people to do things."
One feature of the recreational use area will be a 3 1/2 acre-pond that already exists.
“The discussion is about reshaping and digging out that pond, maybe making it as many as 4 1/2 acres,” Aaron said. “That opens up opportunities of paddleboat and kayaks and fishing, a public fishing dock where people can go out there with their kids, close to town and fish in a stocked pond.”
Additional plans are for the construction of a road behind the businesses off of Early Boulevard. A short road currently exists just behind the CEFCO gas station but comes to a dead end. The city plans on extending that road to Humphrey Pete’s, making it easier for getting in and out of some of those businesses and alleviate some of the traffic on Early Boulevard.
Discussion on the Town Center includes “what can the city afford?” Aaron said, adding there are no plans to issue debt or increase property tax to fund the center.
“The purchase of the property was paid for with sales tax dollars,” he said. “We are engineering a road. The engineering was paid for with sales tax dollars. We should be going out for bid in the next 60 days for construction (on the recreational use section) and it will be paid for with sales tax.”
At Thursday night's public hearing, rankings of the possible amenities, based on the stars placed on the display boards, were:
• Batting cages — 60
• Outdoor stage — 58
• Walking trail — 54
• Swimming area — 47
• Fishing dock — 43
• Dog park — 40
• 9-hole golf course — 36
• Kayak/paddle boats — 34
• Benches — 29
• Picnic tables — 28
• Playground — 27
• Splash pad — 22
• Wetlands — 21
• Gazebo — 21
• Basketball court — 19
• Pavillion — 17
• Interactive soccer wall — 15
• State park — 9
• Large putting green — 9
• 200-yard golf playgrounds — 1