Bergfeld Park, Rose Garden upgrade plans presented to Parks and Recreation Board

Published on Monday, 28 October 2013 22:50 - Written by DAYNA WORCHEL dworchel@tylerpaper.com

Imagine a pleasant fall evening at the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden — twinkling lights are crisscrossed throughout the trees as couples sit on blankets eating a picnic dinner and listening to a concert at the new amphitheater at a special “date night” event.

And over at Bergfeld Park, there could be a new playground, swings and a pedestrian plaza in that neighborhood park’s future.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Board on Monday got a close look at the plans.

The board received two presentations from Mark Spencer of Tyler’s MHS Planning & Design and voted to approve the firm’s preliminary Bergfeld Park plan so that it might go before the Tyler City Council in December.

The Rose Garden plans are also in the preliminary stages, and Spencer updated the board on ideas fielded from more than 100 people in numerous Tyler community groups.

“A business owner at the Bergfeld Shopping Center approached me and said he thought the park really needed a facelift,” Tyler businessman Don Warren said. Warren, who lives near the park, has headed up a committee of 60 neighbors who live nearby to give input on possible improvements. The park is bounded by second and fourth streets and by College and South Broadway Avenues.

On June 27, 1913, the city purchased the land for $4,000 to create a park, which was then known as South Side Park. In 1931, the Tyler City Commission voted to change the name to Bergfeld Park at the suggestion of Oscar Burton, city commission chairman. Rudolph Bergfeld, a business owner in Tyler, helped develop the Azalea District’s homes and property throughout the city.

The dolphin fountain on the park’s east end was added in the 1960s, and the fountain will stay under the new plans, Warren had said in April.

Possible improvements for Bergfeld Park would include new playground equipment, swings and removing most of the 1,000 fixed seats at the park’s amphitheater to leave a grassy area for picnics while watching shows there. Other possible ideas include placing more landscaping at the side of the park, which faces Broadway Avenue, and building a sitting wall around the dolphin fountain so that there is more separation from the street, Spencer said.

The cost for the entire Bergfeld Park project would be about $2 million, Spencer told board members. The money would come from private donations and the city’s half-cent sales tax funds if the half-cent board approves, Warren said. The effort to improve the park began in April, and Warren and his neighborhood group paid half of the $14,700 cost for the plans, with the city paying the other half.

Grace Community Church will help with the design and implementation of the new playground equipment. The church is spearheading the effort, Stephen Wickliffe of the church said.

“The playground equipment encourages adult play as well as play for children,” Wickliffe said. He said the demolition of the old equipment will be in January, and the building of the new equipment will be in February. The play area will be modeled after Gospel Village at Green Acres Baptist Church, which unifies local churches for community transformation.

 Spencer told board members that the more than 100 people from the Tyler community, including the East Texas Symphony Orchestra and the Tyler Civic Theater Center were involved in devising plans for the Rose Garden improvement project.

Possible improvements to the Rose Garden include some income-generating ideas, such as offering wedding packages; a caf←; a “date-night” package with a picnic basket; an amphitheater with a stage, which can be moved when not in use; rest rooms in the garden; and seasonal attractions for fall, Christmas and other seasons.

“We have also looked at the trails (in the Rose Garden) from a disability stand-point, and they are sloped too high,” Spencer said. And another possible plan would be for more trees to be planted on the north side of the park to mirror the south side. Several board members were supportive of the idea, and said that in the summer heat, it is difficult to enjoy the Rose Garden.

More than 100,000 people visit the Rose Garden each year, Parks and Recreation Director Stephanie Rollings said. It is still too early in the planning process to be able to give a definitive cost on the improvements, but a portion could come from the city’s hotel-motel tax funds, she said.