By Kimberly Fish
The Longview Arboretum and Nature Center, a 501C3 non-profit, closed on the purchase of 706 W. Cotton Street Tuesday, May 16, 2017, in a bold move to not only further the goals and aims of what will become the Longview Arboretum and Nature Center’s Education Center, Gift Shop, Administration and potential event center, but creating a shot of Miracle Grow © for the forward movement of what will become Longview’s most highly desirable park venue, and also a gem for all East Texas.
The LANC Board of Directors and the City of Longview entered into a Memorandum of Understanding in January of 2017 regarding the future development of the 26-acres of land between Grace Creek and Maude Cobb Activity and Convention Center. During that time, extensive private fundraising has allowed for the LANC board to develop and design plans for the first Phase of Arboretum cultivation—which includes a formal garden with gazebo, meadows, a lake pavilion with amphitheater, creek enhancements, flower gardens, and trails. Working in conjunction with the Gregg County Commissioner’s Court, the City of Longview Parks and Recreation Department, and with grants from Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Sabine River Authority, infrastructure work for the water and soil cultivation, and designs for the trail system have already begun. There have been two major community events, Peek at the Park(s), designed to inform and inspire citizens toward the future possibilities of a city park designed for peaceful pursuits and appreciation for the natural beauty of East Texas.
The building purchase from Longview Baptist Temple allows the LANC board to create a Cotton Street entrance and dedicated parking for the Arboretum, and after extensive renovations to the current structure a multi-use facility that will function as the brain-center for all Arboretum activities. Working with MHS Designs and Hugman Architects, initial plans for improved landscaping, parking, and function of the building will correspond in design with the building renovations to provide a seamless park experience for all guests of the Longview Arboretum. With education, relaxation, and appreciation for natural beauty at the heart of the Arboretum experience, the board will continue fundraising initiatives to follow through on the momentum created by this game-changing purchase. In original plans, the multi-use facility was a long-distant dream, this opportunity brings the Arboretum to the public with a much faster and centralized plan, securing a twelve-month goal of opening this building to the public, and also to coincide with the opening of the first phase of the Arboretum. Tentative plans for a ground-breaking on both projects is scheduled for early October.