LCRA awards $25,000 grant to create community exercise trail in Palacios

New parkland trail adjacent to Sanford Community Center will include exercise stations, bird-watching spots

Dec. 8, 2022

LCRA representatives present a $25,000 grant to the Sanford Community Center for an exercise and birding trail. The grant is part of LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. Pictured, from left to right, are: Susan Hill, Sanford Community Center park committee; Kate Ramzinski, LCRA Regional Affairs representative; Don Hill, park committee; Tammy McDonald, city treasurer; Dr. Sandra Davidson, park committee; Roberta Brieden, Palacios Lions Club president; Barb Shepler, park committee; Margaret D. “Meg” Voelter, LCRA Board member; Toni Laux, park committee; Deanna Chapman, community center board treasurer; Robin Lewis, community center executive director; Jim Gardner, mayor; Troy Lewis, community center founder and city council member; Stephen F. Cooper, LCRA Board member; Raymond Long, park committee; Dr. Bonnie Benson, community center board secretary; Diva Vazquez, community center board member; and Tony Black, park committee.
PALACIOS, Texas – The Sanford Community Center will create an outdoor exercise and birding trail that will provide individuals and families a safe place to be outside and enjoy nature, thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority.

The Community Development Partnership Program grant, along with $10,195 in matching funds from the community center, will help create a quarter-mile trail on wooded parkland. The trail will be adjacent to the non-profit community center and will include stretching and exercise stations, benches for use by bird-watchers and other visitors, and interpretive signs that explain the historical significance of the 3-acre site.

“This is a small portion of what we envision as our five-year plan for the park, but it’s a vital piece and we’re so pleased to have it in place and be able to build on it,” said Robin Lewis, executive director of the Sanford Community Center, which had its grand opening in June. “There’s such a long and strong history of this property in the community. Our development of it continues that tie to the community, and we’re very proud of this project.”

The Sanford Community Center occupies the building that housed the Palacios Colored School from 1939 to 1965. After school segregation ended in Texas, the building re-opened in 1967 as a daycare and served area children until 2011. The building sat empty until 2014, when Palacios resident Troy Lewis, Robin Lewis’ husband and a Palacios City Council member, purchased the structure and surrounding land.

Troy Lewis’ grandfather was among those who helped expand the original two-room school building after it settled at its final location.

After a fundraising campaign, the former school was renovated and reopened as the Sanford Community Center – named for Dr. Granville Sanford, who was the principal of the school, and his wife, Carita, who was the primary teacher. The building’s history is recounted in a state historical marker set in front of it.

The new exercise trail will be part of a green space known as “forest park,” because children attending the now-closed daycare “would look out at the wooded area, see all the trees and call it by that name,’’ Robin Lewis said.

The new outdoor trail will be flanked by wildflowers.

“It’s a beautiful park, covered with trees,” she said. “It’s such a comfortable place for seniors and mothers with young children. We thought the protected area would just be a wonderful place for people to walk.”

The park was the site of a recent citywide potluck, and Robin Lewis said the goal is to continue holding community wide celebrations at the site.

“We want the entire community to come and use the park,” she said. “We think it’s going to be a great asset to the community.”

The community grant is one of 46 grants awarded recently through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which helps volunteer fire departments, local governments, emergency responders and nonprofit organizations fund capital improvement projects in LCRA’s wholesale electric, water and transmission service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves.

Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in January. More information is available at

About LCRA
The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; providing a clean, reliable water supply; and offering outdoor adventures at more than 40 parks along the Colorado River from the Texas Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to fulfilling our mission to enhance the quality of life of the Texans we serve through water stewardship, energy and community service. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934 and receives no state appropriations. For more information, visit

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