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RULE §61.138Outdoor Urban Park Grants Program

(a) Program purpose and priorities. All Urban Park Program Outdoor Recreation Grant Program applications are evaluated for program eligibility and prioritized according to the Project Priority Scoring System set forth in this section. Multiple-site projects are allowed and will be scored as one project. A project's priority ranking depends on its score in relation to the scores of other projects under consideration. Scored applications are presented to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) for approval. Funding of projects will depend on the availability of funds.

(b) A project that has been considered twice by the Commission but not approved will not be considered again unless it has been significantly altered to raise the project score.

(c) Points will be awarded based on the compatibility of project elements with the scoring criteria in this subsection.

  (1) Acquisition. The project proposes to acquire land that would satisfy one or more of the following:

    (A) significant natural area. An area that is significant for a relatively undisturbed ecosystem that exhibits regionally representative geological, floral, faunal, or hydrological features and has the potential to serve regional or statewide recreation needs. Natural areas can serve as: greenbelts/open spaces; locations for passive activities; preservation areas for unique natural features; and interpretive sites which highlight or explain ecosystem processes (points based on acreage and quality) - (1-4 points);

    (B) green corridor/connectivity to existing protected areas (points based on acreage and quality) - (1-4 points);

    (C) pocket park. Pocket parks are defined as 1 acre or less in size with a service area of one-quarter mile (2 points));

    (D) intensive-use recreation facility such as an athletic complex - (2 points);

    (E) future conservation and recreation purposes that initially provide limited public access (points based on quality and size) - (1-4 points);

    (F) expansion (to include in-holdings) of existing parks and conservation areas - (2 points); and

    (G) adaptive reuse for recreation or conservation of lands that have limited use in their existing state - (1 point).

  (2) Development. Project proposes development of one or more of the following:

    (A) neighborhood park. Neighborhood park is defined as 1-15 acres in size with a service area of one-half mile. (3 points);

    (B) nature center (natural-resource-based sites developed for outdoor recreation and education purposes such as trails, wildlife viewing, interpretive signage, etc.) NOTE: Indoor facilities are not eligible under this program. (2 points);

    (C) park and conservation area of regional significance (project is a component of a comprehensive or park and recreation master plan for 1 or more political jurisdictions) (2 points);

    (D) multi-purpose recreation facility (1 point); and

    (E) outdoor aquatic recreation (1 point).

  (3) Restoration. Project provides for the restoration and/or renovation of existing infrastructure (or other facilities) that is no longer usable for its intended or original purpose:

    (A) restoration of existing infrastructure. Points will be awarded based on Renovation Cost divided by the Total Construction Cost multiplied by ten - (1-10 points);

    (B) adaptive reuse of existing structures and facilities to provide new or different recreation opportunities (use of an existing slab from a demolished building as a recreation court, the reuse of a bridge for recreation purposes, remediated brownfield, etc.). Points will be awarded according to the formula: (Reuse Costs divided by Total Construction Costs multiplied by five) - (1-5 points);

  (4) Trails/Corridors/Greenways. Project proposes one or more of the following (points awarded based on length of trail):

    (A) major linear development (1 mile or longer) - (1-6 points);

    (B) development that connects or extends an existing trail system or wildlife corridor - (1-5 points);

    (C) major loop development (1 mile or more) - (1-4 points);

    (D) neighborhood/loop trail development - (1-4 points);

    (E) off-road trail development for non-motorized use - (1-2 points);

    (F) aquatic paddling trail development - (1-2 points);

    (G) interpretive nature trail development - (1-2 points);

  (5) Sports Facilities. Project proposes the development of one or more of the following:

    (A) large capacity, intensive-use sports facility - (7 points);

    (B) competition or practice facilities in close proximity to users (3 points);

  (6) Underserved Populations. Project provides for one or more of the following:

    (A) more equitable geographic distribution of facilities. Project proposal shall provide a map showing current distribution of parks in entire service area to support a need in a particular location - (4 points);

    (B) project improves opportunities for low-income citizens based on the economic demographic information of the service area from the most recent census data, determined by multiplying the percentage of population qualifying as low-income by 2 (0-2 points);

    (C) project improves opportunities for ethnic minority citizens based on the demographic information of the service area from the most recent census data: determined by multiplying the percentage of population qualifying as ethnic minority by 2 - (0-2 points);

    (D) project provides park and recreation opportunities for physically/mentally challenged citizens, which exceed the federal and state required accessibility standards. 2 points;

  (7) Local Resources and Partnerships.

    (A) project involves public-public or public-private cooperation based on the percentage of the match contributed by partners. Points are calculated by dividing the partner contribution by the total match and multiplying by five. (0-5 points).

    (B) Project includes documented contributions via the applicant or outside resources above the 50% required match. Up to 3 points will be awarded based on the following criteria: (Additional Contribution Amount / Required Match) x 3.

  (8) Master plan. Points will be awarded for planning, as follows:

    (A) project applicant has a locally adopted and department-endorsed parks, recreation and open space master plan or other jurisdiction-wide plan that addresses outdoor recreation needs - (5 points); or

    (B) project satisfies 1 of the top 5 priority needs - (5 points).

  (9) Threat. Project reduces the threat to the public availability of a conservation or recreation opportunity. The project narrative must include a discussion of the particular compelling circumstances involving the project, such as imminent loss of opportunity or time-sensitive economic factors (i.e. loss of potential funding partner if action is not undertaken quickly).

    (A) no evidence of threat is presented - (0 points);

    (B) minimal threat; the conservation or recreation opportunity appears to be in no immediate danger of loss in the next 36 months - (1 point);

    (C) actions under consideration that could result in the conservation or recreation opportunity becoming unavailable for public use - (2 points); and

    (D) actions that will be taken to result in the conservation or recreation opportunity becoming unavailable for future public use or a threat situation has occurred or is imminent that will result in the acquisition of rights to the land by a land trust at the request of the applicant - (3 points).

  (10) Historical/cultural resource. Project provides park and recreation opportunities that enhance and encourage appreciation and preservation of site-based cultural, natural, historical or archaeological resources by means of interpretation, facilities, or preservation strategies - (2 points).

  (11) Consistency with the department's Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan (up to 10 points). Applicant must specifically describe how the project meets the goals of the Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan.

  (12) Compliance.

    (A) applicant is not in compliance with previously funded projects - (5 points deducted from total score).

    (B) complete application received by the application deadline - (5 points).

  (13) Urban biologist consultation. Applicant has consulted with an urban biologist from the department regarding the proposed site plan at least 30 days prior to the application deadline and the biologist's comments are included in the application materials - (5 points).

  (14) Sustainable park design and development. The project embraces sustainable techniques in the design and construction of the park or includes wildlife habitat improvement/restoration. Points will be awarded based on but not limited to diversity, innovative nature and/or cost of the project elements - (1-5 points).

Source Note: The provisions of this §61.138 adopted to be effective July 3, 2008, 33 TexReg 5012; amended to be effective February 2, 2009, 34 TexReg 666; amended to be effective July 15, 2014, 39 TexReg 5407

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