More than 20 community residents and city employees showed up for the Harker Heights “Great Spring Clean” on Saturday at a 20-acre piece of property the city wants to turn into a historical park on Comanche Gap Road.
Harker Heights Parks and Recreation officials said their goal was not just to get trash to the Dumpster, but to get the community involved in the park’s restoration.
“We were blessed with a pretty morning and this is a fun piece of property,” said Jerry Bark, parks and recreation director. “Volunteers are what make the community and projects like this successful. It gives them a chance for a sense of ‘buy in’ for what we are trying to do in restoring this park.”
The city purchased the land in May from the family of Bill Alford, who operated a historical amusement park there in the 1960s and ’70s. Most recently, it is home to the annual Medicine Man awards ceremony.
The site also is recognized by the Texas Historical Commission as the place where Comanche Indians abandoned two girls they kidnapped in a raid on settlers in 1859.
Workers spent most of their time hauling wood and debris from demolished buildings. Some were rewarded for their hard work on the spot when they found treasures among the trash — old Coca-cola and Mountain Dew bottles, discarded books and what appeared to be the rim of a wagon wheel.
Students Chase Lalouette, Anna Jordan, Jessica Babb, Eleni Maniotis, Savannah Harris, Penelope Price and Essyria Price volunteered for the cleanup to help out and get involved in the community.
“I am almost a life-long resident of Harker Heights,” said Babb, a junior. “It will be nice to have a historical park in Harker Heights, and it’s going to be nice when it’s finished and (I can) say, ‘I helped in doing this.’”
Families from the Comanche Gap neighborhood, including Debra Oravec and her daughter, Erin, participated in the cleanup, along with Harker Heights High School’s Excel Exchange Club and the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce Junior Ambassadors.