A new beginning

State park breaks ground on remodeled facilities

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Officials at Stephen F. Austin State Park broke ground Oct. 8 on the $3 million remodel of two facilities and the conversion of two restrooms into shower units.

With the park having been ravaged by floods the last several years, the facilities are being designed to be flood resistant since they cannot be made flood proof due to the proximity of the Brazos River.

The Sealy Chamber of Commerce conducted the ceremony.

“This park has always had a few … challenges,” said chamber Blue Blazer Zanetta Knesek.

She said the park is “hallowed ground to us.”

“When we know the state is standing up for its heritage and putting dollars where we the citizens want them, we are so proud,” she said.

The project includes a remodel of the dining hall and barracks, as well as the demolition of two restrooms to be converted into shower houses.

Jason Beal, vice president of PDG Architects, said they have accepted the fact that the park will continue to flood, so the buildings are being made with materials that will only have to be cleaned off instead of being replaced each time the water pours in.

“This will not prevent floods, but it will mitigate them,” he said.

Fenetre Crenshaw, president of the CMC Development and Construction Corporation, said he was honored to have his company chosen to do the work.

“Our goal is to make a facility that the park and the state of Texas will be proud of,” he said.

Tom Shaughnessy, a longtime volunteer and former president of the Friends of Stephen F. Austin State Park, said the park will celebrate its 80th anniversary on Dec. 12, 2020, and hopes that ribbon cuttings for the remodeled facilities will help mark that milestone.

Park Superintendent Martha Martinez thanked the staff, volunteers, and everyone who helped make the event possible. She also noted that the park is getting an upgrade to its wastewater treatment plant. On average, when the park is open year-round, it averages 47,000 visitors annually.

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