Talkative elephants and hungry caterpillars might soon find a home in Temple as the city moves forward on a plan for a new park.
Horton Hears a Who and The Very Hungry Caterpillar were only two of the storybooks that Temple officials proposed using characters from for a new .46-acre park next to the public library Thursday. The City Council unanimously approved $85,000 for the proposed park Thursday during their regular meeting.
The land being purchased, located at 102 W. Barton Ave., is owned by Pembrook Development LLC, which bought the property in 2015. The property had been owned by First Baptist Church of Temple.
While the city has yet to allocate funds for the park, officials said the only plan for the land is the park.
After taking inspiration from similar parks in Abilene and Dallas, Assistant City Manager Erin Smith presented the idea of turning this lot into a storybook-themed park. The proposed park would have images of classical children’s storybook characters along with places for children to read and be read to.
“It is very difficult to find unimproved property, in particular in our downtown,” Smith said. “What we want to do with our property is to create a park that is themed with different storybook characters. We feel that this proposed land would not only be a great resource to our community, but be a great resource to both our children and families in the Temple community.”
Smith said she envisions the park being a place where local children can read stories and look at sculptures of these characters, but interact and play.
Temple Mayor Tim Davis and City Councilman Wendell Williams both said they had an expectation of what benefits this sort of space brings to a community, as they had been to similar locations before.
“(Parks like these) are beautiful,” Davis said “To have that piece of land so close to the library that has sat unused for a number of years, this definitely is an appropriate use.”
Council members said they were excited about a park near the library. City Councilwoman Susan Long said the construction of this park would not just be good for the library, with its child reading programs, but also the city in general.
“(This is) not just for the library, but it also begins to pull the library into the downtown reinvestment, renovation and changes,” Long said. “The park is for everybody, not just for library patrons.”