The ecological goal of the plan, based on meetings with the City of Frisco representatives and stakeholders, was to increase ecosystem function while also increasing human experiences in nature. This is an innovative approach to creating a park space where program and conservation are combined to make a truly special place that is local, playful, and responds to the needs of our time.
NW Community Park historically was a prairie ecosystem, as was much of the middle United States ranging from the Gulf Coast all the way to Canada, and now less than approximately 1% remains. In 2021, Blackland Collaborative carried out a site assessment and discovered remnants of old-growth Blackland Prairie in portions of the park. The southern portion of the site contains a large agricultural field and stands of landscape with compacted soils and invasive species, but the native soils were intact and could provide the city with the opportunity to restore this endangered ecosystem. The prairie offers multiple benefits that are needed in urban environments, such as capturing stormwater, improving air quality, and reducing heat island effect.
Blackland Collaborative worked with Design Workshop to create a design that incorporates biodiversity and active park programming. The new design features remnant and restored prairie with interweaving mountain biking trails, hiking trails, playgrounds, dog parks, and multiple gathering spaces. The ecological goal is to protect the function of the northern remnant prairie while enhancing and increasing the bike and hiking experience. And in the southern portion of the site, where majority of the programming will take place, prairie will be restored around these features which will increase ecosystem function and human activity simultaneously.
From an interpretive perspective, the story of NW Community Park is about preserving a critical part of nature in a rapidly developing city while encouraging people to experience, learn from, and enjoy the park. Much of the existing remnant diversity was not seen. We want to help show what was overlooked, and help others begin to see and appreciate all of the diversity and beauty. When we see, we protect. Education leads to action. We want visitors to expand the park in their backyards. Due to the adjacency of schools and neighborhoods, the park has the opportunity to be a living laboratory. NW Community Park paves the way for a new type of higher-functioning public green space. Immersive interpretive and educational opportunities enrich and enliven typical park programming like playgrounds and community gathering space.