Lincoln Center, neighborhood thrive after years of investment

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By Steve Beachy, Former Parks & Recreation Director (1978-2007)

In 1978, the Lincoln Center and the surrounding neighborhood were in a severe state of neglect.

The old school buildings showed the years of little or no maintenance. Holleman Drive was a narrow roadway with broken pavement and no curbs or gutters. Eleanor Street and adjacent streets were unpaved and had a tendency to become impassable during heavy rains. Sidewalks, street lights, and paved parking were nonexistent.

The area also had numerous substandard homes, vacant houses and properties overgrown with weeds and brush. The poorly maintained softball field and two youth baseball fields fell far short of meeting the needs of our small but growing college-oriented community.

A lack of funding for potential improvements made the situation grim.

A steady renaissance

Despite these problems, one thing provided a beacon of hope for Lincoln Center and the surrounding neighborhood. That one seemingly intangible factor was a deeply held pride by the area’s residents in their historical connection to the old Lincoln High School. That strong heritage proved to be the catalyst that began a steady renaissance that continues to this day.

A significant step was taken in the early 1980s when the city council approved about $10,000 to survey the neighborhood and develop a master plan. Even in that era, it was minimal funding for land use planning activities.

Still, the planning effort moved forward under the careful guidance of the Lincoln Center Advisory Committee, Parks & Recreation Board and Planning and Zoning Commission. Key staff members from every city department also provided invaluable assistance and support.

The finished product was a simple but ambitious plan to transform the old school into a modern multi-use community center with the surrounding property designated for redevelopment as a sports complex and park. The plan also included recommendations to improve streets, sidewalks, lighting, drainage and other infrastructure.

The city council approved the plan and identified funding sources, including more than $1 million in federal Community Development Block Grants. A long-term, incremental approach resulted in ongoing improvements throughout the following years.

Handsome dividends

The small initial investment for planning services provided the guide for transforming a negative situation into a positive asset. From that humble start – and years of coordinated efforts by the city council, citizen committees and city staff – emerged the vibrant and thriving community center and neighborhood that we see today.

It’s a source of pride that continues to make a positive impact on the lives of our residents every day. A small investment made more than three decades ago has paid handsome dividends.

In my opinion, it’s some of the best money the City of College Station ever spent!

Related Blogs:

To learn more about College Station’s history, visit cstx.gov/heritage.

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