By Rebecca Rose

Harker Heights Herald

The corner of Mountain Lion Drive and Nickelback Road. in Harker Heights is changing. As construction equipment and mounds of unearthed dirt slowly give way to paved paths and structural skeletons, the future picture of Purser Family Park becomes more and more clear.

"It's really developing really nicely," Harker Heights City Manager Steve Carpenter said. "It's going to be a beautiful park."

When completed, the 35-acre Purser Family Park will feature a playground, a lighted exercise trail, several pavilions, picnic tables and park benches. For Carpenter, the park's natural beauty is one of the features he thinks residents will be most pleased with.

"I think that the one thing that is such a premium, are the older oak trees," he said. "There is a lot of shade throughout the park."

"We've tried to keep as much of natural vegetation, like what we did with (Harker Heights Community Park) and Carl Levin Park," said Jerry Bark, Parks and Recreation Director.

Bark said the park will bring two key features that will distinguish it from other area recreational spots.

"The first is the 18-hole Frisbee disc course. You don't find that in too many areas. The other item is going to be the dog park. That makes it unique in just that aspect."

Purser Family Park will feature two dog parks, where owners will be able to let their dogs run off leash in enclosed areas. Bark said interest from the public has been mounting in what will be the greater Killeen area's first-ever dog park.

Bark pointed to the recent success of the Puppypalooza event, held at Carl Levin Park on Sept. 15, as one of the indicators for local interest in pet-centered activities. The free festival for dog lovers and their pets featured a day of games and events.

"We had over 700 people at Puppypalooza," he said. "We're extremely excited to be able to offer something like this to pet owners."

As part of the city's new park watch program, Bark and other staff met with residents to address concerns about the new construction, and changes the park might bring to the area.

"We invited all residents in the neighborhood," he said. "We've had concerns about what was going in there. Whenever new construction happens, a major concern is what is going on in our back yard."

Another part of the park is the recreational complex, planned by the Armed Services YMCA.

"It will be a full service YMCA, with an indoor pool, child watch, teen activities, and many more," said Tony Mino, ASYMCA executive director.

Mino stressed that the facility is intended for residents beyond Harker Heights. "This will be for the whole community," he said. "This is a YMCA to serve the whole area, from Nolanville, Killeen, and to Copperas Cove."

Like Mino, Carpenter said he hoped the park's close proximity to Killeen would encourage residents from the neighboring city to visit.

"Any nice park is used by people from all different areas," he said. "The key is it is right in the middle of the residential area. Harker Heights and Killeen residents will be able to use the park together."

"I hope someday, Killeen will extend the walking trail over to their city limits," Carpenter said.

Bark said overall, city officials were pleased with the progress of the park's construction.

"Contractually, it has to be completed by the end of February 2012," he said. "We are on target for that date."

Contact Rebecca Rose (254) 501-7548 or

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