Discussions that began during a Harker Heights City Council Workshop over a year ago concerning the possibility of leasing 560 acres of Dana Peak Park from the Corps of Engineers have moved a step closer to reality with the release of an official management proposal.
The Dana Peak Park Management Proposal, as revealed to the Council at its Tuesday workshop meeting, is the result of months of intensive research by Parks and Recreation Department Director Jeff Achee and members of his staff.
For the first time, council members heard about and saw the details of the potential lease agreement between the City of Harker Heights and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which was one of the more extraordinary hurdles to clear in the early stages of developing the proposal.
The 10-page proposal contained an overview of the project, a tentative calendar for future plans, proposed budget, personnel information and details about maintenance, programming, marketing and fees.
An overview of the project states that according to a survey conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) in 2019, the 560 acres mentioned in the lease includes 100 feet from the designated shoreline along the lake.
The proposed length of the lease, beginning in 2021, is a five-year initial lease with the option to renew the lease for another 25 years when the city is ready to apply for a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) local park grant; the lease must have at least 25 years left in order to be considered.
In addition to protecting investments made by the city in regards to long-term management of the park, the 25-year lease term is also the minimum needed to secure grants from TPWD that will ensure that the facility evolves to meet the needs of the community.
Major events on the tentative calendar include:
Signing of the lease agreement and gathering public input on the Master Plan process during a January/February 2021 time frame.
In March and April of 2021, the purchase of fixed assets related to the management of Dana Peak Park and a City Council meeting to approve entering into a contract with reservation and point-of-sale software.
Marketing and communication with the public about new programs, fees and schedules and the taking of reservations online for 2021-2022 campsites and pavilions will begin during May and June 2021.
In July and August 2021, contracts for gate attendants will be finalized.
Installation of signage at the Dana Peak gatehouse, boat ramp, day-use areas, trails and trailheads and campsites regarding updated rules and regulations for the park will be done in September of 2021.
Regular park operations will begin on Oct. 1, 2021.
Once it opens, the park will remain open all year. Park hours are 6 a.m. - 10 p.m. Gate hours will be 10 a.m.- 8 p.m.
Among the programs that can be offered or improved upon leasing Dana Peak Park are: camping program, pop-up park program, outdoor classroom, bird watching, archery programs (temporary), trail runs/bike races, guided hikes, movie nights on the beach, interpretive programs and educational signage and trail maintenance.
The city will allow large-scale events at the park, such as the Food, Wine and Brew Festival, movie events and music events.
Park fees are tentative and must be approved by the council.
The estimated cost of the Park Specific Master Plan is $23,000.