Coppell Gazette > News
FCNP seeks city funds for biodiversity center
While more than a million dollars in cash contributions and services have been raised, the Friends of the Coppell Nature Park (FCNP) say they still need another $709,000 in order to get the construction of a $1.7 million biodiversity education center under way.
The FNCP is hoping that the Coppell City Council will vote next month to make that contribution from city funds.
The city earlier had donated the land, valued at $400,000, for the nature park. With that amount added to the $1.7 million for the building, the entire project would be valued at $2.1 million.
Lou Duggan, representing the FCNP, gave a power point presentation to the city council at a regular meeting earlier this month, showing the purpose and advantages of having such a center, and requesting the funds from the city.
He said the funds are needed now while many companies are offering to donate their services toward the building of the facility.
He is hopeful the city council will approve the funds at a meeting next month. If so, he said construction can begin in February or March and be completed in about eight months.
The Coppell Independent School District, which has contributed $300,000 in bond money toward the project, would use the center for classes. The center would be owned by the city of Coppell.
SHW Group is the architect for the project. The facility being proposed would be 3,556 square feet, rising to 20 feet of glass at the nature park end of the building. It would have a large multi-purpose room which could be used as an education classroom or meeting room. It could even be used for a wedding reception, ballroom or conference room.
“However, adult and youth education is the main focus of the education hall,” Duggan said. “CISD is a partner in the project and their teachers will have access to the education hall for hands on education within the Nature Park.”
He further explained, “According to CISD staff, this facility will broaden science study, which is a main STEM focus by our state. On the elementary school level, the center will support hands-on curricula for food chain study, rock and fossil classification, plant and animal interaction, and aquatic organism studies.”
He continued, “At the middle school level, the center will provide a real world laboratory for the study of the classification of species, ecosystem interaction, ecological balance, conservation and preservation, and topography. At the high school level, the center will provide reality-based applications for bio-diversity and habitat, stream development and erosion, water quality, environmental impact and natural resource studies.”
Duggan also said after the meeting that the city of Coppell “will probably employ the center as a place where it can provide city offices and educational programs on behalf of its citizens, including for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Master Naturalists, Master Gardeners and Master Composters.
“It will be a facility where adults join with youth for seminars on rain water collection, green construction, composting, capturing solar energy, drought-resistant gardening, and bio-diversity study,” Duggan said. “It will be a focal point where Eagle Scout service projects are created and nurtured -- a place of creativity.”
He said the center will not only serve the citizens of Coppell, but will be available to people all over North Texas.
“Regionally, the education center will make Coppell a destination of choice for those who want to learn about nature and conservation,” he said. “It will host and promote residential and commercial environmental conferences while teaching and demonstrating conservation techniques. In addition, North Lake College envisions the center as a venue for offering academic classes in the sciences plus field trips to study nature.”
Following Duggan’s presentation at the city council meeting, Mayor Karen Hunt told him that the council will take the request for funds under advisement.
City Manager Clay Phillips said afterward, “We will be discussing the nature park and dog park with the city council in the near future to determine the council’s direction regarding both projects.”
Brad Reid, director of the Coppell Parks and Recreation Department, said, “The FCNP item will be discussed at the Jan. 8 work session of the city council. There will be no action item, but the hope is to receive direction from the council on how to proceed.”
He added, “The dog park issue will be discussed at the Jan. 22 council meeting.”
Bill Sundermann, FCNP president, expressed a strong desire to see the council approve financial support to make the biodiversity center a reality.
“We believe this gives the city a golden opportunity to help build a $2.1 million facility for only $709,000. We hope the city council will see the benefit of providing this facility for the city.”
The Coppell Nature Park is located at the edge of Wagon Wheel Park. When the city council gave the land for the nature park, it was valued at $400,000. Councilman Billy Faught told Duggan that when the land was donated by the city, the council had no intentions of contributing more toward a building on the property.
The city council voted to donate the land for the Coppell Nature Park after the FCNP began plans for such a park several years ago. The 66 acres of wooded land is comprised of five miles of wide trail; park signage, bridges, benches and a nature classroom; a 900 square-foot observation deck; and picnic tables, kiosks, fences and bird habitats.