By Holly Wise
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS - Three years after flooding rendered it unusable, Dana Peak Park's gates were open for its first Labor Day weekend since 2006.
"It's really nice and relaxing," said first-time park user Rhoda Lynch, a native Hawaiian who camped along the shoreline. A Hawaiian flag flew over her campsite while children played in the nearby lake.
"It's really quiet and calm," said Tiffany Truque.
"We're the noisiest," Lynch said, smiling.
Lake manager Dan Thomasson said it's been a good season for the park, but that it will take awhile for people to realize it's open again - something Truque thinks is all right.
"I wouldn't advertise it," she said. "Once you start advertising it, the crazies come in."
"I can remember Dana Peak being overrun by people," Thomasson said. "It was very, very popular, and it stayed that way till the flood of '07."
In its last full year of being open, Dana Peak Park had 132,000 visitors.
Three years later, what used to be a heavily forested park is now mostly open grassland.
"In my opinion, it's not as pretty as it used to be," Thomasson said.
The park suffered extensive damage during the July 2007 flooding which destroyed the park's original facilities. It reopened in early March.
"It took two years to get everything rebuilt," Thomasson said. "It's been a long time coming."
The park was built in the 1960s and has undergone a lot of changes over the years.
"All they had was a drinking fountain - if you want to call it that," Thomasson said. "It was more like a water hydrant."
Thomasson said Stillhouse Hollow Lake is primarily designated for flood control and during floods, water may be held for weeks or months. A flood in 1992 obliterated many of the trees, a result of sitting in water for long periods of time.
The park has 33 campsites, a beach, a boat ramp, a fishing pier and bathroom facilities.
"It's a very popular park," Thomasson said. "It's the closest major park to Harker Heights, and a lot of people from that area and Killeen use it."
Contact Holly Wise at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7474.