Please click here for a digital copy of our 2015 Open Space Master Plan document.
Ernie and Becky Burkett of Shannon’s Farms donated five young pecan trees to our 2018 Sunset & Stars BBQ silent auction. Long-time supporter, Dr. Nathan Hodges, bought one in support of the RCOSA’s efforts to raise money for projects within Rockwall County that can promote trails, parks and open spaces. Today was planting day at Dr. Hodges’ home in McLendon-Chisholm. Thank you to Dr. Hodges for supporting RCOSA and to Shannon’s Farms for providing the young pecan trees to beautify our land!
We are pleased to announce that Heath Mayor Brian Berry signed the Mayor’s Monarch Pledge at the August 22, 2017 City Council meeting. “I am pleased to join Mayors from all over Texas in taking action to help save the monarch butterfly, an iconic species and our state butterfly,” said Mayor Brian Berry. “This is an especially good time to take this action as our Park Board initiates a new Parks, Trails, and Open Space Plan which can address enhancing habitats that promote and preserve native wildlife.”
The Rockwall County Open Space Alliance board is very excited that Heath is joining the City of Rockwall’s Mayor and other area Mayors in this important statewide initiative!
Monarch Butterfly Recovery Effort
- The beautiful Monarch Butterfly is The Texas State Insect “Butterfly”
- The Monarch is the only Butterfly to migrate a thousand miles from southern Canada and from one spot in central Mexico and always comes through Texas each Spring and Fall feeding, reproducing on the way
- Monarchs are in serious decline -‐ we Texans can help their recovery
- Guarantee that our Grandchildren will witness these beautiful Monarchs migrating by the millions to announce each Spring and Fall
- Become a member of the Rockwall County Open Space Alliance
- See rockwallosa.org and join (it’s free)
- Become active in providing for your family’s green space future
- Donate whatever time, talent and treasure you can
- Plant Native Milkweed and other Nectar Plants in your home garden
- Purchase seeds and plants from local nurseries
- Apply for grants of seeds and plants from Monarch organizations
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
- Monarch Watch
- Native Plant Society of North Texas
- Monarch Wranglers (Laura Bush)
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
- Texas Discovery Garden at Fair Park
- And others
- Create a Monarch Way Station (link: Monarch Watch)
- Avoid pesticides on your plants, when purchasing plants and choosing organically grown foods
- Apply beneficial insects to prevent and control aphids
- Use a hard spray of water to remove large infestations
- Buy organically grown plants to protect feeding and laying Butterflies
- Spread the Word
- Learn about the unique Monarch Butterfly and help educate our children
- Encourage your Mayor to take the Mayors Monarch Pledge
- See the national website: Mayors Monarch Pledge
- Initiate Monarch Gardens in your community for the Recovery Effort
- School yards
- City parks
- HOA Common Areas and Other Open Space Areas
Click here to view the 2015 Rockwall County Open Space Master Plan created by Verdunity/WRT for the Rockwall County Commissioners Court.
At the January 26, 2016 meeting of the Rockwall County Commissioners Court, the commissioners and county judge unanimously approved the Open Space Master Plan submitted by Kevin Shepherd of Verdunity, Inc. representing his team in partnership with WRT Design, Inc.
The Open Space Alliance Executive Committee and member cities are thrilled that this important step was taken and appreciate the confidence and support of our commissioners (David Magness, Lee Gilbert, Cliff Sevier, and Dennis Bailey) and County Judge David Sweet.
Next steps are being determined at this time as to the appropriate funding mechanisms to consider and adopt as well as the organizational structure for our ongoing monthly meetings. Any decisions made within the next month or two will be provided to you as they become available.
Thank you to everyone for your support and contributions in this process. We look forward to what this means for Rockwall County, our cities, and citizens!
After many months of study, research, community workshops, and meetings with city staff and mayors, our final draft of the Open Space Master Plan is ready for final community review and input. The consultant team of Verdunity and WRT was hired by the Rockwall County Commissioners Court with the recommendation of the Rockwall County Open Space Alliance’s Executive Committee to provide the court and the citizens of Rockwall County with an actionable plan to guide the county and its cities in preserving open spaces throughout the county.
“Open space” can mean parks, bike & hike trails, natural areas, preserved cultural and historic areas, community amenities, and much more. This plan meshes the online and steering committee surveys with the existing park and trail plans from the cities of Rockwall County and makes strategic and tactical recommendations for us to move forward with.
At the final community meeting held on December 1, 2015, the plan’s highlights were presented and discussed. You can find the presentation from that meeting here.
You can find a pdf of the Rockwall County Open Space Master Plan here. Public comments are welcome through Sunday, December 13th. Please send them to email@example.com.
Thank you in advance!
At a community meeting scheduled for December 1, 2015, citizens will be able to review and comment on an Open Space Master Plan for Rockwall County. The meeting will be held in
Liberty Hall jury room at the Rockwall County Courthouse, 1111 East Yellow Jacket Lane, and will run from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Registration starts at 5:30.
The OSMP consolidates all the information and plans into a countywide Master Plan that can be used as a guide by the County and individual cities. As development occurs, there will be
opportunities to preserve and protect natural systems and designate open spaces and corridors for future recreational considerations and trail connections throughout the County.
For additional information about the project, please contact RCOSA Vice Chair Nell Welborn at firstname.lastname@example.org or the consultant’s project manager, Kevin Shepherd at
See more at www.rockwallosa.org and www.facebook.com/rockwallopenspace
Covering only 147 square miles, it’s a well-known fact that Rockwall is the smallest county in Texas. Residents also recognize that the last half of the 20th century has brought many changes to this historically agricultural area. Its desirable location outside the ever-growing Dallas metropolitan area also brings growth.
For a small group of volunteers, there is a heightened awareness that the County stands to lose the very things that attracted residents in the first place: green spaces, rural character, and traditional way of life. As development and demand for housing grow, they believe the people of Rockwall County must decide whether to protect and preserve the county’s natural heritage.
This was the situation facing the Rockwall County Open Space Alliance (RCOSA), a coalition of representatives from the Cities of Heath, Royse City, Fate, Rockwall, Rowlett, and McLendon-Chisholm, and the unincorporated parts of Rockwall County. Feeling the urgency to this mission as greenbelts disappeared, they asked the Rockwall County to develop a master plan to coordinate open space on a countywide level.
In late 2014, the Rockwall County Commissioners Court contracted with the planning team Verdunity/WRT. After several months of intense work including onsite visits, a survey of county residents, and two public meetings, a first draft of the Open Space Master Plan is nearing completion and will soon be available for comment. An additional public meeting will be scheduled in the near future.
To learn more about the meeting or participate in an online discussion about open space needs and priorities, visit www.rockwallosa.org, or email email@example.com. The latest information can be found on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/rockwallopenspace.
A community workshop for the Open Space Master Plan was held July 15th. Over 80 citizens attended, as well as several city and county elected officials. The meeting was intended to provide updated information about the ongoing master plan effort, and to get input from participants on potential types and locations of future open space amenities throughout the county.
The workshop included a presentation from our team, followed by dot voting exercises and comments from attendees, and then closed with some follow-up discussion and Q&A. A copy of the slide presentation used can be found here. Steve Hammond from WRT reviewed what we’ve heard so far from the community survey, meetings and interviews. He then discussed the process our team has been using to consolidate information from various plans and data sources, and reviewed the analysis tasks we’ve completed to determine existing areas with access to parks and trails, green infrastructure opportunities for storm water management, and potential corridors for off-street trails of various types. This technical analysis will be cross-referenced with community input and conversations with the cities and property owners to determine what goes into the final plan.
One of the takeaways from the community survey was that a lot of people don’t know where the existing parks, trails and public open spaces in the county are located. We have some great open space assets in the county already, so we want to include a master map of these facilities in the Plan that the county and cities can reference on their websites in the future. The current draft (updated as of July 30) of this map can be seen here . I want to take this opportunity to note that collecting and updating information on existing and future parks, trails and open space in each of the cities is an ongoing process. The level of detail, type of information and currency of the plans varies widely from city to city, and there are always conversations happening within each city relative to zoning cases, proposed development, etc. We appreciate all of you who have provided comments to us, and we will continue to do our best to keep the maps as current as we can.
The next part of the workshop focused on some of the opportunities that are emerging from our analysis work. I started with an example of an existing open space system that connects a variety of open space amenities in Plano, Richardson, Garland and Rowlett with a series of 12’, multi-use trails. I did this to illustrate how other areas are coordinating open space amenities between cities and within a watershed, similar to what this plan is looking to do in Rockwall County. For county-wide trail connections, we’ve identified riparian (floodplain), utility and transportation corridors that could be used. When you combine these all together, we have a fairly robust network criss-crossing the county that we can work with to provide different types of trails that access and connect existing and future destinations.
The majority of the large open space amenity opportunities are in the central and eastern part of the county. The sites we included on the opportunity map are ones that are in ideal locations due to their proximity to some combination of existing floodplain, NRCS lakes, tree canopy and vegetation, wildlife and topography. We also referenced each of the cities’ master plans and showed sites that are included as future community or regional park sites.
After the presentation, we asked attendees to participate in a series of voting exercises. The exercises involved prioritizing different Potential Trail Connection Segments and then providing information on preferences for the type and use of the trails, followed by asking attendees to prioritize locations and preferred types/uses for future open space amenity sites. Results of the voting exercises and list of comments can be found in this Summary.
The corridors we presented for voting were ones that survey participants, stakeholders and/or committee members expressed interest in. This input will help our team refine potential corridors and trail types for connections between the different cities and destinations.
Our team is now in the process of taking all of the input we’ve received, and putting together some refined opportunity maps for open space sites and trail corridors. These sites will be discussed with the Open Space Alliance Executive Committee, citizen steering committee, cities and property owners over the coming weeks. Another round of revisions will then be made and a draft plan document will be prepared for review and comment in the next few months.
Kevin Shepherd is a Rockwall resident and co-founder of VERDUNITY, the consulting firm leading the Open Space Planning effort. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At our recent Community Workshop, one of the graphics showed the option of a lakefront trail in Rockwall. This was included based on responses to a survey of county residents.
Since the lake and take line area around the lake are owned by the City of Dallas, there are legal and contractual issues that make such a trail impossible. The leadership of the Rockwall County Open Space Alliance takes the position that this impossible option should not have been shown, regardless of the survey.
We apologize for any confusion this action has caused and wish to assure residents along the take line that there is absolutely no intention to pursue this course.
Rockwall County Open Space Alliance
One of the three primary goals for the Open Space Master Plan is to identify opportunities and recommend implementation strategies to preserve storm water corridors. Preservation of natural drainage ways is essential for flood control and wildlife, but there are some other benefits that can be captured by planning development strategically in and around these areas.
First and foremost, there are fiscal and economic development benefits for property owners as well as the local governments. Numerous studies and real estate reports are showing that properties that include or abut quality open space are worth an average of 30% more than those that do not have access to open space. Well-designed open space can also reduce the number and size of dry detention basins and underground vaults, and can aid in mitigating pollution in our creeks and streams. Utilizing and enhancing the storm water management capacity within the county’s open spaces and stream corridors can alleviate burdens placed on single site development projects to manage runoff volumes on site, and it can help reduce the size of storm water infrastructure such as culverts and underground pipes, saving cities money in long-term maintenance costs. Regional storm water controls in and adjacent to existing floodplains combined with strategic implementation of green infrastructure approaches such as bioswales helps slow storm water runoff down, reducing erosion impacts and helping to filter out pollutants.Finally, there are recreational and educational benefits that can be captured by providing citizens access to these spaces. When combined together as stacked functions, these types of open spaces can provide tremendous financial and environmental value while also saving cities and taxpayers money over time in reduced maintenance.
Rockwall County and its municipalities have a great opportunity to explore policy options that will protect and preserve the abundance of riparian corridors that meander through all parts of the county. There are seven watersheds within the county, each with varying levels of development and each featuring unique natural and constructed drainage systems. A few of the watersheds fall completely within the jurisdiction of a single city, but the majority of them cross multiple city boundaries and/or unincorporated parts of the county. There are also 27 lakes that are part of the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) system, which are dams that were built in the 1950s and 1970s to assist in flood protection and erosion control, provide water supply to service agriculture use, and to provide fish and wildlife habitat. A few of these are publicly owned, such as Cameron and Phelps Lakes, while others are on private property. These ponds serve as valuable amenities but they were not designed to manage the increased storm water runoff that results from urban and suburban development. Some of the dams are approaching the end of their original design life, and will require maintenance in the near future in order for them to continue to function effectively. The County just authorized funds last month to make maintenance improvements to one of these dams, so this maintenance cycle is already starting. Other counties have also taken advantage of early planning to combine maintenance efforts with trails and other amenities to maximize the benefits for citizens. One example of this is the Adriatica development in McKinney.
Part of our team’s scope for this project is to review the floodplain and storm water management practices of the County and each of the cities, and identify opportunities to coordinate storm water management and green infrastructure implementation strategies throughout the watersheds. The first priority is the preservation and enhancement of existing natural corridors. The second priority is the retrofitting of existing systems that are already impacted by encroaching development with a focus on enhancing these community areas while seeking to improve the environmental performance of the systems. By planning open space strategically and coordinating efforts between developers, the cities, the county, and the various state and federal regulatory agencies, the county can minimize land impacts, save money on maintenance, and enhance property values and quality of life for current and future residents of the county.
Kevin Shepherd is a Rockwall resident and co-founder of VERDUNITY, the consulting firm leading the Open Space Planning effort. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.