St. David’s Foundation selected the City of Elgin to receive $199,909 as part of the “Parks with a Purpose” program where more than 19 applications were received in 2019 from Bastrop, Caldwell and Travis Counties.
The City of Elgin matched the grant to replace aging playground equipment, add fitness opportunities, create a multi-purpose track, and plant new trees in Elgin Memorial Park. Sidewalks, paving and parking lot improvements from Alpha Paving, costing $74,545, were funded by the City of Elgin.
Edible Arbor Walk
The Edible Arbor Walk Project began in 2018 with the planting of a handful of donated fruit trees. Year after year the Elgin Parks & Recreation Department partners with the community to plant new fruit, shade, nut, and evergreen trees in Elgin Memorial Park to increase the biodiversity in our park, provide hands-on learning opportunities, and allow park patrons to grab a snack straight from the tree.
Community volunteers at our Texas Arbor Day event and members of Ranch House Recovery planted more than 55 trees in Elgin Memorial Park in 2020.
Little Free Libraries
Through partnerships with Jeanette Shelby Realty and Lions Club Thrift Store, two of Elgin’s parks have become home to new Little Free Libraries. A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange meant to encourage the sharing of books and knowledge in the community.
In 2020 Jeanette Shelby Realty built, donated, and continues to stock three (3) Little Free Libraries; two (2) in Elgin Memorial Park and one (1) at the trail entrance to the Shenandoah Greenbelt. You can recognize these Little Free Libraries by their classic house shape and bright pink paint!
While the Coronavirus Pandemic has impacted how we physically come together, Elgin Parks & Recreation has adapted to continue providing quality engagement opportunities throughout the year. More than 2,000 Free Weekly Activity Books were distributed to the public every Wednesday from March until September, then monthly through December. These free activity books provided seven days of activities that ranged from arts and crafts, to educational materials.
Elgin Parks & Rec puts out two new “StoryWalks” in a different park each month. StoryWalk® helps promote health and literacy in children while having fun in nature by highlighting fun, representative books that connect us to our surroundings.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Elgin Parks & Rec has hosted two socially distanced in person events, accommodating over 30 families. These include the Pumpkin Carving Event and Texas Arbor Day Tree Planting and Crafting event. Elgin Parks and Recreation also hosted a number of digital and socially distant events such as Virtual Webinars on Prehistoric Mammals and Sea Animals with Dinosaur George, Scavenger Hunts in the park and a Toy Campout in the Park.
Recognition & Awards
At the Texas Recreation and Parks Society (TRAPS) State Conference in February 2020, the Elgin Parks & Recreation Department was awarded multiple accolades: Debora Marzec, was awarded the Individual Outstanding Service Award, the Elgin Parks & Recreation Department was awarded the Arts & Humanities Programming Achievement Award Class IV for the Trash Art Week Contest & Crafts event in September 2019, and Dock Jackson was awarded the TRAPS Lifetime Achievement Award. Dock Jackson worked for the City of Elgin for 9 years.
In November, the Central Texas Chapter of the Texas Recreation and Parks Society (TRAPS) awarded the Elgin Parks & Recreation Department two Central Texas TRAPS awards; the Lone Star Programming Award for TRAPS Central Region for the Cardboard Boat Race that took place over the summer 2020 and the Arts and Humanities Award for TRAPS Central Region for the Free Weekly Activity Books.
To continue offering the best service possible to our patrons while keeping them safe, the Elgin Recreation Center is open seven days a week by appointment only. Appointments can be made over the phone or online, and allow for limited household groups to partake in the Recreation Center amenities, while providing time for sanitization between reservations. While most classes and programs are suspended, the Rec Center continues to offer WildCat Walkers Monday—Friday so patrons aged 60+ can come walk laps in the gym to get their fitness and social goals met.
Over the summer Morris Memorial Pool opened by appointment only, much in the same way, and even provided Water Aerobics to pool patrons in limited numbers to allow for appropriate social distancing.
Concession Stands Now Open!
Elgin Parks & Recreation Department is now opening concession stands in the parks each weekend! There are drinks, snacks, bubbles and chalk for $1.00 each, as well as sports equipment and games to borrow free of charge. This means that families can participate in tennis, basketball, soccer, disc golf and more without having to own or bring the equipment to the park. Visit Thomas Memorial Park, 411 Madison St, from 10AM – 2PM on Saturdays and Elgin Memorial Park, 127 North Main Street from 12PM – 4PM on Sundays to take advantage of the concession stands!
Elgin Parks and Recreation has strived to connect with and support the community more than ever due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. We are proud to say we have partnered with Ranch House Recovery, The Evening Lions Club, Drive a Senior, Advocacy Outreach and the Bluebonnet Trails Community Services “Parents as Teachers” organization. Through these partnerships we create a stronger community. #OTOTOF
Parks Master Plan Begins
At the beginning of 2020, the Parks Advisory Board surveyed the public to compile a list of park improvements, additions and acquisitions to pursue in the next 10 years. Work on the updated Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan 2021-2031 is ongoing and will be presented to City Council in 2021.