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The small city with big dreams, goes big with new inclusive park

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TOOL–The City of Tool is a small city with big dreams and they are excited to serve their residents in such a big way by adding a community park entitled The 8 at Tool.
Tool hopes to provide a community center feel where residents of all ages can gather for events, kids to play, remembrance, exercise, fish, enjoy the gardens, bring their pets and enjoy some food. The park is planned to have an amphitheater for events, a walking/jogging figure eight, a splash pad and unique play area for kids that will incorporate music, climbing, nets and more. Other areas of the park include a Veterans Memorial, botanical gardens, butterfly garden, mural wall, dog park, fishing pond with pier and benches throughout the park along with picnic tables with a food truck court.
Mayor Tawnya Austin says that this project has been in the works for three to four years. “When I first took office as mayor, I began surveying the residents and doing town hall meetings to gather feedback on things that were important to them. The 8 at Tool is the culmination of the things the residents said were important to them,” says Austin.
Austin says that the brochures originally presented did not include every element but there is a large children’s area incorporated into the park. “In addition to a splashpad, there will be some nature play that includes large rocks, net climbers with multiple creative activities, musical instruments shaped as flowers and butterflies along with open areas for general play,” Austin said. Picnic tables, benches and plenty of shaded areas to get out of the sun have also been incorporated into the city’s design. Handicapped access for both children and adults was important for the city to have in the project. Austin stated that while the park will not have 100% inclusive aspects, they have taken accessibility into account throughout the design and both kids and adults will find the park to be extremely inclusive for everyone.
With a total cost of $1.5 million Austin makes it very clear that the city will not be increasing taxes for this project and will be paying for it from a couple of sources. “Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) has approved a grant for a 50/50 split of the $1.5 million where we each contribute $750,000. We have three years to use part or all of the grant from TPW,” said Austin. She further explained that when the city secured bond monies to finish paving the roads in the city they were able to get enough funds to go towards much needed city buildings and the park development. “While the funds go a long way toward those needs, we will need to raise additional funds for the completion of the park project. One way the city hopes to raise the additional funds is by hosting a fundraiser gala from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 9 at the Cedar Creek Country Club. The gala will have silent and live auctions, a dinner and opportunities to sponsor the park amenities. “We do not have a specific goal in mind for the Gala,” Austin says, “but the timeline for completion of the park project will be dependent on our fundraising efforts. The gala will be a great starting point.”
The city is also in the process of setting up a 501(c)(3) company through the city’s lawyers which will allow them to qualify for additional corporate grants as well as ongoing grants that will fund programs and events for the park.
Even though Tool is still in the engineering phase which can take some time, they are hopeful to break ground January 2022. Completion of the project will be conducted in phases but the city is hopeful the phases will be back-to-back and continuous. An anticipated 18-to-24-month timeframe of completion is estimated for the current plans but there is room to continue to add. Upon completion of the park there will be a big celebration and ribbon cutting.
Austin is confident that the maintenance department will be able to handle the general maintenance of the park. “As we open, we are in talks with other organizations to sponsor programs for different age groups.” which the mayor anticipates could require some staff which would be paid for through grants or donations.
The location of the new park project will be adjacent to City Hall and sit on 10 acres. The acreage is the same 26-acre plot of land as the new senior housing development that is currently under construction.
In the past, the city has always offered a great fall/Halloween festival and opportunities for more festivals and community events has become one of Tool’s big goals with this project. Austin says there will be an amphitheater that will house concerts, movie nights, theater productions and can even be used as an outdoor wedding venue. Restrooms and a food truck court will help with these events. Additionally, the city hopes to use the park in conjunction with United Way and other organizations to sponsor summer programs for kids and adults.
What is the mayor most excited about, personally? She says she’s excited about a place for our community and surrounding communities to come together and gather. “We believe this will create a community center for us here in Tool which we have been lacking. With it, our hope is to grow our economic development efforts to better serve the residents on the west side of the lake as well as the lake community overall. We want everyone to come and enjoy the space,” stated Austin.
Tool is the small city with big dreams. “Dreaming big can lead to making big things happen,” Austin said.
For more information, register for the gala or donate visit www.birdease.com/The8AtTool. To donate items for auction contact Becky Young at byoung@tooltexas.org.

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