HARKER HEIGHTS — The 20-acre plot of land on Comanche Gap Road is steeped in Bell County history, and little has changed over the past 150 years. City officials want to preserve it.
During a City Council workshop meeting Tuesday, designer Brent Luck of Luck Design Team walked members through a revised concept plan for the future Comanche Gap Park, which will be built in phases.
Luck, along with city staff, presented a plan to the council in August that council members agreed was “too commercialized” and not aligned with their vision of keeping it historical and natural.
Councilman Spencer Smith said the site plan should tie history into nature and Comanche Gap should specifically highlight Harker Heights.
Luck and Jerry Bark, director of Parks and Recreation, presented the council with an updated plan Tuesday that included simplifying the project as a whole, with a redesigned parking lot, a scaled-down and natural playscape, and overall capturing and highlighting the native grasslands and natural area.
“The city’s intent is to develop the property into a park by identifying historical, recreational, educational and cultural resources of the area,” said Bark, adding the park will feature a performance amphitheater, interpretive trail, an outdoor classroom and at least 60 parking spaces.
Members agreed with the changes made by the design team.
The overall council consensus was the park needs more bathroom facilities, and the pavilion where the existing homestead lies needs better access to vehicles.
“No point in putting money into a pavilion if you have no way of getting your stuff into it,” said Councilman Sam Murphey.
The property, which is recognized by the Texas Historical Commission as the place where Comanche Indians abandoned two young girls they had kidnapped in a raid on settlers in 1859, is better known today as the home of a historical amusement park owned and operated by the Bill Alford family in the late 1960s and 1970s and the site of the annual Medicine Man awards ceremony.
The Alford family sold the land to the city for $350,000.
No timeline for developing and opening the park to the public was established yet, City Manager David Mitchell said.