253 Acres Protected for TX Nature Preserve

Wylie, TX – 02/02/2005 -Wylie, a community located about 20 miles northeast of Dallas, is addressing the challenge of rapid growth by saving a beautiful open space located in the center of a development hotspot. Today, the City of Wylie announced the acquisition of 253 acres of land to be used primarily for a regional park and nature preserve. The acquisition was made possible working with the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural places.

Like many North Texas communities, Wylie is experiencing a major influx of residents and business. Heavy residential and commercial development is erasing much of Wylie’s old farm and prairie land. Fortunately, the community decided to do something before it was too late. In 2003, the City of Wylie implemented a Parks and Open Space Plan to establish more parkland and open spaces for the public and began working with TPL early in 2004. TPL and the City agreed to work together to identify undeveloped sites that could be acquired for preservation.

The 253-acre tract was at the top of the City’s wish list. As part of the agreement with TPL, the land was conveyed to the City.

“This is one of the last large, undeveloped tracts of land available in Wylie,” Mayor John Mondy said. “I want to thank TPL, City Manager Mark Roath, Assistant City Manager Mindy Manson, and City staff who worked so hard to ensure the purchase and protection of this property.”

A planned regional park on this site would be one of the largest in Collin County. The City is also exploring the use of this land as a Town Center concept to create a true community centerpiece, which would combine the regional park, athletic fields, recreation center, and hike/bike trails with other municipal uses such as a library and city hall. The site is located near Wylie High School just north of FM 544 and east and west of FM 1378 (Country Club Road).

“In the last few years, Wylie has seen tremendous growth and development,” said Roath. “The community is facing those challenges through careful and practical planning and this future park and nature preserve is a perfect example of that.”

TPL’s assistance ensured the preservation of the old farmland site, which had been owned by the Wells family for nearly 150 years. The site lies within a major residential and commercial corridor and was considered prime development real estate. However, the family was committed to protecting and preserving the land for public use and enjoyment.

“Our family has been dedicated to the betterment of Collin County and its communities for generations,” said Ms. Nancy Wells Warder, spokesperson for the Wells family. “We were delighted when TPL approached us with the opportunity to preserve this land for public enjoyment. We anticipate this transaction will have a far-reaching effect on the quality of life in Wylie and the surrounding areas. Now the public will be able to enjoy the beauty of this property for years to come.”

The purchase of the land will be financed by the City through Certificates of Obligation and paid for from the City’s 4B half-cent sales tax revenue fund, which is designated for park and recreation facilities. The City will also seek funding from Collin County’s 2003 bond program for parks and open space acquisition.

TPL considers the Wylie regional open space to be the first step in bringing its Parks for People initiative to the North Texas area. Parks for People is a national effort to work with cities across America to ensure that everyone– in particular, every child– enjoys access to a park, playground, or open space.

“There are nearly 100 suburbs in the D/FW Metroplex, many of which are experiencing an extraordinary level of growth,” said Paul Lehner, TPL Project Manager. “Wylie is a model for growing communities in North Texas that are committed to ensuring an exceptional quality of living for its citizens. We hope to work with these communities to preserve land for public enjoyment.”

Since its founding in 1972, the Trust for Public Land has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 45 states. In Texas, TPL has protected more than 26,000 acres for communities, including areas in and around Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve its land for people mission. For more information please visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org ?