After huge growth, artificial turf transforms Leander park

Robin Bledsoe Park in Leander has new athletic fields that have artificial turf (Julie Karam, KXAN).
Robin Bledsoe Park in Leander has new athletic fields that have artificial turf (Julie Karam, KXAN).

LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — Leander will get a new space for athletics beginning Thursday, Feb. 8. As one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, the Robin Bledsoe Park off Baghdad Road offered space for sports like soccer, but the grass quickly turned to mud with the number of people using it.

Thanks to a voter-approved $71.6 million bond in 2016, residents will see what looks like a brand new park.

“It’s an exciting time to be a resident here,” says Mark Tummons, Director of Leander Parks and Recreation Department. “We want people to enjoy being here and being a part of Leander.”

The parks department utilized $1.6 million of the 2016 bond to make the improvements, which took six months. The grass has been replaced with artificial turf and better drainage.

The athletic fields are named after Gabriel and Jayne Serna, who started using the park in 2002 when they founded the Leander Youth Soccer League. “We wanted something that was high quality, was competitive, but also affordable for people in our neighborhood so we started the league and it has grown pretty substantially,” Jayne Serna said.

It started with 65 players and has now grown to more than 400. When Gabriel passed away in 2014, Jayne was dedicated to carrying on their mission. The problem was their program had become so popular they had worn away the dirt.

“Anytime it rained or the weather is too extreme we would have to close,” Jayne Serna said. “The drainage wasn’t perfect and because there was a lack of actual turf the field was not very solid.”

Officials hope multiple sports can use the new space.

“We have a lot of other opportunities here, flag football, ultimate Frisbee, lacrosse, field hockey — we envision a lot of use on these fields in a variety of ways that have never been used in the Leander community before,” Tummons says.

The Leander Parks and Recreation Department is working on a master plan for all its parks. Some of the other items covered in the 2016 bond will build a new recreation and senior center as well as additional park improvements.

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