Texas Parks and WIldlife approves swap of park land between city and school district
A swap of parcels of land between the City of Center and Center Independent School District has finally received the approval needed by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department about a year after the request was sought.
In November 2018, Center ISD Board of Trustees voted setting the tentative site for a new 1,500 seat multi-purpose facility, later referred to as Roughrider Coliseum, on the property adjacent to Center High School where city soccer practice fields have been located.
City Manager Chad Nehring said the city recently received authorization from TP&W for the convsersion of about 8 acres of property between the city and the school district. In the meantime Center ISD officials have opted to change the location of Roughrider Coliseum to land fronting Roughrider Drive with plans to have the new structure be attached to the wing of the high school where the band hall is located.
On Monday night, Feb. 10, Center City Council approved the land swap from the city's point of view after having a closed executive session with City Attorney John Price. Nehring said once the city's property is transferred to the school district it will be up to school officials to determine what the future use will be since it will no longer evidently be used for Roughrider Coliseum.
“Parks and Wildlife has issued preliminary authorization to amend the land designation of Center Park in conformity with their grant regulations and the perpetual maintenance requirements for that facility,” he said.
Texas Parks and Wildlife officials said the property “has been acquired or developed with Texas Recreation and Parks Account assistance and that it cannot be converted to other than public recration use without the written approval of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.”
Among the other site options considered for the coliseum project in late 2018 was one which would have placed the multi-purpose facility in front of the existing high school close to Roughrider Drive and one which have placed it adjacent to the school's existing gym where a parking lot is located.
Among the obstacles planners saw if the multi-purpose was placed next to the existing gym would be using up existing parking places while not easily being able to provide more parking in close proximity. They said that site would also present drainage issues.
Then-Superintendent Dr. James Hockenberry said at a November 2018 CISD Board meeting that using the approved site where the soccer fields are located for the new multi-purpose facility would require an inter-local agreement with the city of Center which would allow the exchange of about eight acres of property between the city and the school district.
He said the city owned the proposed property site while the school district has another nearby site of about the same acreage it could trade to the city for.
Due to wildlife mitigation issues and other considerations, including the fact the park property was acquired using TP&W grants designating the land as park space in perpetuity, the land swap required the state agency's approval.