Public meeting on March 27 to take input on improving Pace Park
How would you like to see Pace Park improved?
That is one of the questions that the Pace Park Advisory Board will ask during a public input meeting 1-3 p.m. March 27 at the Village Municipal Building, 301 N. Stagecoach Rd.
During the public input meeting, there will be four stations at which the advisory board members will take comments from local citizens.
At station one, Amy McLane and Will Lowery will take input on the following: What kind of social activities would you like to see take place at Pace Park? How could Pace Park be more easily maintained?
At station two, Bobby Whitson and village administrator Don Ferguson will take input on these questions: How would you promote community involvement in the park? How would you like to see Salado Creek access developed through Pace Park?
The third station will be anchored by Susan Terry and Tim Fleischer, who will take input on this: What do you consider Pace Park’s unique or special character? How would you go about making Pace Park more visually interesting?
Susan Humiston and Curt Strong will facilitate the fourth station, taking input on these two questions: How would you develop Pace Park in order to reflect the local culture and history of Salado? What would make Pace Park more safe, welcoming and accommodating?
The input will be incorporated into a long range plan for Pace Park that will be presented by the Pace Park Advisory Board to the Board of Aldermen with suggestions for funding and development.
The Village of Salado is now the single trustee for Pace Park. For the first 70 years of its existence, Pace Park has been under the trusteeship of a board that was first appointed in 1946 when the heirs of W.A. and Mary Jane Pace gave seven-lus acres of their land to used as a public park in Salado.
The following history is adapted from one Jackie Mills wrote for the 60th anniversary of Pace Park.
The W. A. Pace family arrived in Salado in 1854. They had journeyed from Indiana to Central Texas with a wagon train, traveling 1,200 miles in three months. They first built a home on what is today called College Hill. W. A. and Mary Jane parented 17 children. Twelve of the 17 lived to adulthood.
The Paces owned hundreds of acres, and later they built a new and bigger home in Prairie Dell. W. A. was the first farmer to raise cotton in the area during 1873. He owned the first horse-powered thresher in the community and bought the Salado Grist Mill from W. A. Davis. The mill was washed away by the 1900 flood and was never rebuilt. The Paces were charter members of the Salado Methodist Church
On Aug. 16, 1946, heirs of W. A. and Mary Jane Pace gave seven-plus acres of their land to be used as a public park in Salado. It is recorded in Volume 569, Page 625 in Bell County records.
The following is an account from Patsy Sanford, her husband the late Paul Sanford, the late Elizabeth Mosley and the late Wilbur Foster of what happened to the park from late in the 50’s until 1992. “In about ’57, seeing that the park had grown up with weeds, bushes, etc., the Pace family told some people in Salado that if the park was not cleaned up, they would reclaim their gift to Salado,” according to the late Paul Sanford.
Patsy Sanford remembers, “At about the age 10, several of my friends and I made tunnels through the blood weeds near the spring, since the weeds grew higher than our heads.”
Paul said, “The Paces also wanted a sign to read ‘Pace Park’ by the entrance on Main Street, which was then Texas Highway 81. So in the late 50s a meeting was held to decide what action to take. Among those present at the meeting were Wilbur Foster, Earl Guest, Charlton Johnson and John Allen Barton.
Paul remembered, “After that first meeting a Park Board was formed. Some members included Chester Critchfield, Dr. Ashe, Wilbur Foster, and Col. Larson. The County Agent and an A&M specialist gave the group a program on parks. Efforts were begun to clear the area.
Paul added, “Wilbur Foster and Charlton Johnson found someone to make a wooden sign that rainbowed above the north entrance to the park. The old well in the park was reactivated with Earl Guest furnishing the pump, and Wilbur turning his garage into a workshop where he built the well canopy.“
“Joe Bentley and I mixed concrete to build the first tables and benches in Pace Park,” Wilbur remembered. “In about ’65, when Darrell Street was the Salado Chamber of Commerce President, I was in charge of a barbecue to raise money to build a pavilion in Pace Park,” Paul said.
The first Art Fairs were held on the Village Green at Stagecoach Inn but grew to the point that the event found its permanent home in Pace Park.
In 1996, the 50th Anniversary of Pace Park, Roy Hector, Chamber President, had a new “Pace Park” sign erected to honor the Pace family.
In 1998, Tim Fleischer who was then President of the Salado Chamber of Commerce, collected donations from local businesses and individuals for new limestone picnic tables and benches built by Wayne Phillips that today grace the park.
Denver Mills remembered, “In 2001 another change occurred in the way the park is managed. The Chamber of Commerce approached the Village of Salado Board of Aldermen and requested financial assistance in carrying out their mission. An agreement was reached whereby the Village of Salado would provide funding to the Chamber for the care of the park.”
In 2002 Alderman Rick Ashe spearheaded the efforts for a children’s playground in Pace Park. The Salado Moms Club members and helpers, including Linda Privitt, Amanda Gerhart, Christi Arner, Marie Sunshine and Gavin Radebaugh sold tiles to decorate the playground and contributed $7,000.
The Village of Salado budgeted $25,000 over a period of two years for the playground. PALS came to the aid of the children of Salado with gifts for the playground. Mike Cornett and Alex Jaimes built the rock wall surrounding the playground, The Rotary Club recently added the shade covering over the playground. The Rotary Club also supported the construction of the restrooms on the north side of the pavilion.
Denver Mills summed up by adding, “The vision that W. A. Pace descendents had in 1946 has endured over the years to the degree that the precious little park is now an idyllic spot in a remarkable community. The efforts of the many, many Salado citizens who have kept the park in repair have resulted in many thousands of visitors who visit Salado and enjoy one of the greatest amenities that the Village has to offer.”