A History of Land Use in Rockwall County is a new presentation provided to our supporters and to all county residents that provides interesting and useful information about how land use has changed over the 150+ year history of Rockwall County. We have gone from an agrarian-based economy to one that is vibrant with industry, small business, and many sub-developments across the county. This presentation is an automatic slideshow which will give the reader a glimpse into the reasons why Rockwall County Open Space Alliance and our mission and goals are so important! Enjoy! Click here to watch the show!
Thanks to you, our supporters, we raised money in our ticket sales, silent & live auction, and raffle that will be used for the benefit of Rockwall County’s open space, trail connectivity, and watershed protection goals!
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!
Released in conjunction with the Outdoor Industry Association’s 2017 Capitol Summit event, the report shows that the outdoor recreation industry is a powerful force in the overall U.S. economy, with consumers spending $887 billion annually on outdoor recreation and the industry creating 7.6 million American jobs. In addition, the report demonstrates how the outdoor recreation economy works in tandem with preservation and conservation efforts for America’s most treasured outdoor spaces, contributing to the growth of our economy and ensuring that we are properly protecting America’s beautiful lands. Finally, the report is a valuable resource that can be used by members of the industry to better understand the outdoor recreation landscape and how it impacts their businesses.
Do your elected officials realize how big the outdoor recreation economy is? Tell them it’s HUGE. $887 billion in consumer spending. 7.6 million American jobs. Send them Outdoor Industry Association’s latest Outdoor Recreation Economy report, and encourage them to support this powerful industry. bit.ly/2pHgzD7 #ThriveOutside
Join us for a Wildflower Tour hosted by the Nature Conservancy at the Clymer Meadow Preserve on US 69 in Celeste, Texas. May 20, 2017. RSVP to email@example.com or 903-752-0676.
Click here for more information about this wonderful opportunity to experience one of the last remnants of the Blackland Prairie!
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!
Attached here is the final plan document that was presented to the Rockwall County Commissioner’s Court on December 29, 2015.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com.