How it happened
The concurrence of projects to create a campus trail, an outdoor venue, and a means to connect the Kerrville community with Schreiner University via the River Trail is neither accidental nor coincidental. Instead, it is the result of years of intentional and incremental efforts to continually improve and extend the Town and Gown partnership between Kerrville and the University.
Planning and discussion with the City of Kerrville for the extension of the River Trail began more than 3 years ago, but in many ways it started even earlier. A foundation of a collaborative, partnering relationship between City Hall and Schreiner, along with the fact that Schreiner University leadership conducted its strategic planning process at around the same time as City administration was engaged in its focus group sessions with community leaders, resulted in strategic congruity in several goals and initiatives. An example of this accord is the fact that both the City’s and the University’s strategic plans call for extension of the River Trail onto the Schreiner campus.
For Schreiner, that initiative would support one of the four core goals of the Schreiner 2023 plan – the one that says, “We will invest in the Delight of the Campus Community and the Growth and Vibrancy of the Hill Country Community.” More specifically, we wanted to intentionally create connections and pathways to bring the Kerrville Community to the university, and to connect Schreiner students, faculty, and staff to Kerrville.
What it became
Community leaders, representing the Chamber of Commerce, the EIC, the EDC, local entrepreneurs, and the neighborhoods surrounding Schreiner all saw the benefit, and the project came together. An enabling grant from the EIC provided much of the funding, with the university’s agreement to contribute several key components. Schreiner’s commitments included:
- Construction of a Campus Trail that would connect to the extended River Trail at the trailhead; and
- Trailhead improvements, including a public restroom and other amenities to create a welcoming destination.
Completion of these projects marks a strategic milestone for Schreiner.
A Campus Trail
The new trail that circumnavigates the campus provides a safe and attractive path for joggers and walkers. The trail design responds to focus group requests for safety and security features including a lighting-controlled crosswalk at the intersection with the Memorial Boulevard campus entrance, striping and signs to delineate other intersections with campus streets, and trail lighting to enable nighttime use.
The improvement of the trailhead site became quite tangible, as campus focus groups representing students, faculty, and staff identified specific amenities, including – a gathering and recreational space, featuring outdoor games and sports; a music venue; and improved parking and lighting. Student leaders, particularly SGA President Jessie Leal and Undergraduate Fellow Logan McLendon, participated actively in the planning and management of the resulting project that includes:
- Restoring an historic Texas Hill Country rock house to create the home of the new Songkeepers program at Schreiner University;
- Remodeling a 100-year-old building to create The Trailhead Beer Garden – a place for social gathering;
- Removing several old structures (they were relocated and repurposed by a local entrepreneur – so nothing was destroyed or wasted),
- Improving the freed-up space to create outdoor dining (with food trucks and picnic tables), construction of a gaming area for washers and cornhole, and an outdoor stage and dance floor; and
- Renovation and improvement of the disc golf course, and creation of a sand volleyball court.
The project also corrected infrastructure deficiencies by installing new modern public restrooms, a new fire hydrant, and improved parking between the new beer garden and the Robbins-Lewis pavilion.
We are delighted that we are finally able to invite everyone in the Schreiner and Kerrville community back to the campus. The combination of the successful completion of these collaborative projects with our mutual emerging from the COVID-19 crisis is cause for great celebration. Welcome back, indeed.