So far the current revitalization of Historic Downtown Mansfield has focused on the restaurants and retail that will soon call Main Street home. But a critical element of the effort that will transform this important area involves the city’s award-winning parks system.
Most Mansfield residents have probably never heard of Pond Branch but the little known creek that runs through Historic Downtown will play a key role in the revitalization efforts. Plans call for using the creek to link the downtown area to the Walnut Creek linear trails at Town Park and Katherine Rose Memorial Park.
“This is a rare opportunity to not only enhance the experience for our residents and visitors in Historic Downtown but to continue to build the connections of our linear trail system throughout the city,” said James Fish, senior park planner. “We are incorporating the natural elements in this area to create a special place. We are also utilizing a unique feature from the city’s past into this project, which seems appropriate considering it will be a critical element in our Historic Downtown.”
New trails, trailheads, landscaped retaining walls, bridges and transitions to Historic Main Street are among the features planned for the Pond Branch Linear Park, which will be constructed in phases beginning later this year. The Mansfield Parks & Recreation Department will include the turn-of-the-century railroad drainage culvert that runs under the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in the project’s design, converting the culvert to a tunnel with the trail passing through.
The corridor will begin at Pond Branch south of Town Park and extend south under the railroad and continue to Elm Street with a trail head added at Smith and Oak streets for a downtown pedestrian connection. The trail will then extend south under Broad Street with a trailhead and trail amenities at the Mellow Mushroom public parking lot, then continue south behind the new developments on South Main to Kimball Street. From there the trail will cross over a pedestrian bridge to Pond Street and end with a trailhead at the Pond Street neighborhood.
Design is underway on the $3.4 million project with construction set to begin this fall. Funding is from the half-cent sales tax dedicated for park projects through the Mansfield Park Facilities Development Corporation.