The Harker Heights City Council on Tuesday heard a presentation regarding the future of Dana Peak Park, but not until City Manager David Mitchell refuted misinformation about the park that has been circulated through social media.
Mitchell clarified several points by stating, “The leasing of Dana Peak Park, if approved by the City Council, will not result in a tax increase.
“As has been covered in past open meetings, Dana Peak will continue to be a pay-to-enter park,” Mitchell said. “The numbers that the city has on the usage of the park, as provided by the Corps of Engineers, indicates that the City, with an appropriate gate fee, can operate the park without having to increase taxes. In fact, the park is expected to produce excess revenues that will be held in reserve for flood mitigation for when rising lake levels cause damage at the park.”
Mitchell told council members, “Some citizens have requested that there be a more vigorous review of the budget for the park and I’ll be happy to bring that back to the council at a later meeting.”
According to Mitchell, the pursuit of the park is driven exclusively by input from residents. “This was clearly indicated from the Exploring New Heights project where we gathered volumes of responses from organizations, individuals and focus groups about Dana Peak Park,” Mitchell said. “The topic ‘Laketown USA.’ came from the residents in a focus group,” he said.
Another point made by Mitchell was that residents realize that the park is closed from October until March and it is a revenue reduction in the Corps of Engineers recreation budget. “If leased, the city plans to keep the park open year-round to provide additional access and opportunities,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell also stated that the city needs additional parkland to meet the needs of a growing population.
“The City Council recognized the fact of growth long ago and acquired land off Comanche Park Road and FM 2410,” Mitchell said. “The city has owned this land for eight years. While the city has fully engineered plans for the first phase of this park, they have never constructed it due to revenue concerns. Dana Peak, being a gated and pay-for- use-park allows the city additional park acreage for plus new recreational activities for citizens without the burden of additional taxes,” said Mitchell.
“The City Council has had all of these discussions about Dana Peak Park in open meetings that were accessible to the public. In fact, this very meeting this evening is yet another open meeting at which the park is being discussed. The Council also discussed Dana Peak during budget meetings that were also open to the public.”
Mitchell continued by saying that the monies in this year’s budget provided for the items for the startup of city operations at Dana Peak Park. He said, “These monies cannot be expended until approved by the council. This means that the council will again, in several open meetings, which the public can join into telephonically or listen to on their computer, direct staff on how to proceed with the information outlined in the management proposal and that includes approval of the lease, if the council so desires.”