Historic Downtown Mansfield is getting a splash of green with the grand opening of Pond Branch Linear Park at 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12. The park’s official address is 199 E. Broad Street, but it stretches from East Kimball Street along Pond Branch Creek, running parallel to the downtown shops and restaurants to add a distinctive natural element to the Historic Downtown business district, one of Mansfield’s most unique and longstanding neighborhoods.
“This is the first of many events celebrating the revitalization of Historic Downtown Mansfield,” said Mayor David Cook. “This area has been important to our community’s history and now it will be a key part of its future. Parks have long connected the residents our city to each other and to the unique natural beauty of Mansfield. This trail connection now extends the link to historic downtown and the vibrant energy that is building there.”
Visitors to the park can travel along a ten-foot wide paved trail under a canopy of trees and rock retaining walls that add both safety along the creek and retains the natural feel of the area. The park has a gristmill-themed appearance, with concrete paths, sandstone walls and rock seating areas. A trailhead plaza next to the East Broad Street bridge features seating walls, small columns and a 14-foot identity tower. The plaza also includes bike rack, so trail users can take a break to enjoy shopping or eating at one of our historic downtown destinations. The portion of the trail running under East Broad Street will be lit for added security and convenience, as guests continue on to Sycamore Street. A 70-foot wide steel pedestrian bridge at Kimball Street links area homes to the business district, a much-needed connection lost to flooding many years ago.
The Pond Branch Linear Park is a small but integral part of the overall Mansfield parks and recreation system to provide connectivity of the historic downtown with the main spine trail along Walnut Creek. Phase II of the Pond Branch project, if approved, will connect the end of the trail at Sycamore Street to Katherine Rose Memorial Park by going under the Union Pacific Railroad. The Pond Branch Linear Park does have future connectivity to the Walnut Creek Linear Park system via the North Main Street Trail project.
“The Walnut Creek linear trail system represents a significant quality of life component in addition to being a major part of our award winning park system.” said City Manager Clayton Chandler. “Pond Branch brings this extraordinary amenity into historic downtown.”
Construction is just beginning on North Main Trail, connecting the historic downtown to Town Park and the rest of the Walnut Creek Linear Park system. That portion of the trail begins at Oak Street and crosses the Main Street bridge by incorporating sidewalks and on-street trails. All traffic lanes will remain intact, but narrowed to accommodate the trail over the bridge. Heading north over the bridge, the trails will enter Town Park on the east with cyclists continuing north on the street. On the west side of the street the trails continue as side paths, connect the Main Street Lofts apartment development to the trail system and end at Pleasant Ridge Drive where cyclists will transition to the existing on-street bicycle lanes. The North Main project also includes pedestrian and roadway lighting for safety at night.
City leaders say the Pond Branch Linear Park adds a lush natural element of connectivity to Mansfield’s thriving historic downtown. Once the official ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony is concluded, the linear park and trail will be open for visitors daily.