Tomball and Magnolia residents will have options closer to home
Plans are moving forward for the first public recreation center in Magnolia. In Tomball, a number of small park projects are planned for the spring, while progress on a proposed BMX park has stalled. In addition to public facilities, a new privately owned baseball field in Magnolia will be available for part-time community use starting in April.
Magnolia recreation center
For Magnolia residents, the nearest public pool is in Tomball and the closest tennis courts are in The Woodlands. The Magnolia Community Foundation hopes to change that through its capital campaign to bring an Olympic-sized pool, tennis courts and a 15,000-square-foot recreation center to Unity Park.
In 2012, MCF plans to concentrate on raising $1.5 million to fund the pool and tennis courts with a goal of breaking ground on both in 2013.
“Not only will the new facilities bring an economic value to the community through bringing in tourist dollars, but there’s also a community quality of life value,” said MCF president Deborah Rose Miller.
In December, the Gullo family contributed $250,000 for naming rights for the future Gullo Family Tennis Center. The four tennis courts will include two Quickstart courts, which are smaller sized courts for 10-and-under tennis. In January, the U.S. Tennis Association mandated that all youth competitions take place on Quickstart courts; games played on larger courts will not be recognized by the association.
“There’s not many of those around the Houston area, so this will be somewhat unique to Magnolia,” said Randy Ortwein, president of the Houston Tennis Association and a member of MCF’s capital campaign committee.
The courts will also be wheelchair accessible, according to Ortwein.
“We want to make sure disabled members of Magnolia and surrounding communities know these will be their courts as well,” he said.
Miller said having both of these specifications will open up opportunities to host tennis competitions.
“It’s not just beneficial to residents to have first-class amenities,” she said. “Being able to support and cater to the [competition] market will bring tourist dollars in because people coming for competitions will spend money at local businesses.”
According to Miller, $1 million needs to be pledged in order to start construction on the pool and tennis courts.
“No contribution is too small,” she said. “I love the YMCA slogan, ‘A few will give thousands and thousands will give a few.’ That’s what’s going to make this work.”
One of the city’s first goals after the pools are completed is to offer swimming lessons free of charge for children eight and under.
“We hope to have the facilities up and running by summer 2013,” she said.
Though it is a private business, Magnolia Baseball Players Development often opens its training facilities to Magnolia students for free. Owners Chris Coover and Sam English, who are former collegiate baseball players, plan to offer the same for the baseball field they are constructing, which is expected to be ready for children to play on by April.
“We definitely want the whole community to come and enjoy it and have access,” Coover said.
Coover and English opened their baseball training business three years ago and offer pitching and hitting lessons in an indoor facility. Their space is mainly used by the Texas Seminoles, a travel baseball league for children ages eight to 14.
While the Seminioles have first right to the field, Coover said he encourages community members to contact them if they would like to use the field in off times.
“Anyone who is in the surrounding area is more than welcome to come in and train and learn some things,” Coover said. “They don’t have to play with the Seminoles to do that, but if you come and are interested in trying out for one of the teams, you’re welcome to do that as well.”
In July 2011, David Mayes of Houston BMX made a proposal to Tomball City Council to build a BMX park north of Hufsmith Road on Cherry Street. While the City Council showed interest in the project, roadblocks with parking and funding came up in the fall, according to Councilman Preston Dodson.
“The city requires paved parking for all these type of projects and they do not have money to fund that aspect of the project,” Dodson said.
While the project is not yet dead, Houston BMX Administrator Shanon Baker said they had hoped the city would provide funding for the parking lot.
“If the city can’t help out with any funding, the BMX community is not going to be able to fund the whole project,” Baker said.
Some smaller park projects are moving forward, however. Tomball Public Works Director David Kauffman said the city has plans for improvements at Juergens Park, including a new $30,000 playscape and adding exercise stations to its walking trails. The city will also add a slide to its public pool before summer.
“With the economy, more people are staying home in the summer and looking for activities to do with their kids,” he said. “We want to provide some fun options for them close to home.”