By Olga Pena
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS While Harker Heights six parks thrive with business, city officials agree additional recreational facilities are needed to keep up with the citys continued growth in population.
The Parks and Recreation Department, along with the guidance and support of the City Council, is seeking land to build four new parks with a divergence of amenities in various locations around town.
The quality of life issue is a top goal for our community, said Parks and Recreation Director Jerry Bark. Our parks are being overused, which is a good problem.
Bark added that though residents take good care of park products, the need to spread out recreational activities in the city is great.
City Manager Steve Carpenter explained that not only is population growing at a steady pace, but demographics show young families with school-aged children moving to Harker Heights in great numbers.
We just dont have enough parks, Carpenter said. The parks we have are nice but a growing population demands more parks.
Carpenter has been working with Bark in seeking appropriate locations for new facilities while trying to obtain as much donated land as possible.
Two prospective sites are in the preliminary stages of negotiations while two locations will soon see construction.
The largest piece of land currently being considered is referred to as Dana Peak Park 723 acres of federal property on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Bark said the city has submitted a request for easement to maintain and operate the park for the next 25 to 50 years.
Leasing the property, Bark said, would present the city with a plethora of opportunities to expand recreational services on the parks already developed and undeveloped land.
It opens up a whole new spectrum of recreational use that we currently dont offer, which is aquatics, Bark said.
The property features 613 acres of developed land that offers a wide array of amenities that include a sandy beach, 15 miles of trails, fishing dock, 25 RV campsites, 31 picnic areas with a pavilion, boat dock, 13 parking lots and four restrooms.
Bark said the 110 acres of undeveloped land might offer the necessary space needed to build an athletic complex with four baseball fields.
Those undeveloped acres sit on a bluff that extends to the peninsula of Dana Peak Park.
Bark explained the city is seeking to construct an athletic complex since the P.R. Cox Baseball Field location was given to the new police department being built on Indian Trail. Spring Pioneer Park is currently being used as a temporary site during baseball season.
An estimated figure for the Dana Peak Park lease has not been determined yet and Bark said the city is waiting for the Corps of Engineers Fort Worth District to complete its evaluation of the submitted easement to the Stillhouse lake office.
I call them once a week, Bark said. They are still reviewing it.
While the Dana Peak Park project is still in the infant stage of negotiations, other parks are already under way.
A YMCA waterpark facility behind the Harker Heights Public Library on Beeline Lane should begin taking shape by the end of November.
Directly across the street from the waterpark on Beeline Lane lies the JPTC addition a 14-acre tract of land donated by two families.
It is in a perfect location for a nice park, Bark said, adding that the land is in an older section of the town which is very land-locked. This really opens up our opportunity to enhance our recreational amenities in that area of town.
Bark said the city is working with the YMCA to ensure the JPTC addition complements the waterpark rather than duplicate any services or stimulate competition.
The donating families have provided two stipulations for the land on Beeline; it must be a park and it must have the family names Goode and Connell included in its official title.
Another prospective park site is located on Knights Way 61 acres of property suitable for park needs. The first step of negotiations has taken place as the city has approached landowners as to the possibility of selling their land.
The City Council has been instrumental in lending support and direction to the Parks and Recreation Department in an effort to provide suitable recreational services to a growing community.
We need to spread out our amenities and availability to our citizens, Bark said.
Contact Olga Peña at email@example.com