HARKER HEIGHTS — Volunteers are needed to help clear away brush and tear down old buildings on a 19-acre piece of property the city wants to turn into a historical park on Comanche Gap Road.

The Great Spring Clean, sponsored by the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Department, will take on the project from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 20.

Most of the acreage is overgrown and rugged, so volunteers should be prepared to get down and dirty.

“The area we’re going to start on is where the old zoo was,” said Heights Parks and Recreation Activities Coordinator Heather Cox. “We’re going to be cleaning brush, and there are some buildings there that have stuff in it. We’re going to take stuff out of the buildings and tear down the buildings that are already falling down.”

Cox said they plan to keep the wood from the demolished buildings and repurpose it to preserve the historical aspect of the park.

The city bought 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 was 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 little girls they kidnapped in a raid on settlers in 1859.

In December, the city hired Luck Design Team of Austin to develop a master plan for the property. Brett Luck presented a tentative plan to city officials Wednesday, City Manager Steve Carpenter said.

“Nothing final, just a draft; we looked at it and made quite a few changes.”

The plan included several different elements — educational, historical, cultural and recreational — with history being the one prominent factor, Carpenter said.

“It’s always going to have one component dealing with the history of Bell County, the settlers and Comanche Indians.”

Other ideas discussed were building hiking trails with informative plaques, establishing a natural habitat and using the old jail structure and farm implements that came with the property.

Carpenter expects to receive a revised plan from Luck in the next month but could not give a timeline for the park’s development.

“It’s going to take multiple years,” he said.

Volunteers for cleanup day must be 14 or older and able to lift 20 or 30 pounds.

The city will provide tools, work gloves, bug repellant, sun block, water and lunch for volunteers.

The fire department will also be on site to tend to bee stings and other medical mishaps, Cox said.

To sign up for the Great Spring Clean, call Cox at (254) 953-5493.

Contact Kristi Johnson at kristij@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7548

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