MIDLOTHIAN — With the cut of a ceremonial red ribbon, the first half of a two-phase dream more than five years in the making was officially opened to the community Friday morning. Although the initial opening of the first phase of the Midlothian Community Park was slated for Fall 2015 or Spring 2016, members of Midlothian Parks and Recreation and other city leaders were on hand for the grand opening Friday, Feb. 3.

The first phase, which consists of a state-of-the-art jungle gym, a peewee football competition and practice field for the Midlothian Youth Football League complete with stands and a scoreboard and 13 soccer fields ranging in size covers roughly 45 of the 155 acres planned for the new community park. This phase also includes a concession stand, seating area, restrooms and a five-mile walking trail that has already seen quite a bit of foot traffic.

According to the Midlothian Parks and Recreation website, the Midlothian City Council approved the issuance of the $7.8 million general obligation bond in 2013 for this portion of the project. The website also notes the two tracts of land totaling 155 acres were purchased in 2006 by the council.

"The Midlothian Community Park will enhance the beauty of Midlothian, address the need for youth and adult sports leagues and organizations, provide an unsurpassed special event location, offer a broad range of recreational amenities and support a higher quality of life," the park's description on the parks and rec website reads. "All aspects of this project will be reviewed by the parks board for their recommendations and acted upon by city council."

As for Phase Two an upcoming bond election, if passed, will provide the funds for a new splash pad, up to seven baseball fields, additional parking and a potential amphitheater on the back 110 acres of the new park. The back half also features a small fishing pond, which the City of Midlothian will utilize for its kids fishing day in April. However, one city park employee noted, "We have a lot of work to do between now and then."

Although officially located at 3601 S. 14th St., the address for the new park does not quite exist yet on many, if any, GPS or hard-copy maps — as 14th Street has not yet been extended to connect to the service road for through traffic.

To access the new park, take FM 663 South toward Ashford Lane and turn left on Ashford. From there, the park will be on your left-hand side with additional access and parking on the completed segments of 14th St. past the main entrance on Ashford.

According to the City of Midlothian Parks and Recreation website, Phase Two had an original estimated completion date of January 2018, and no alternative has been listed as of press time.

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Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith

(469) 517-1470