Harker Heights City Council members and city staff met Tuesday for a workshop at the Dana Peak Park’s Comanche Gap Pavilion to discuss the potential lease of the park, which is more than 600 acres of Army Corps of the Engineers property located at 3800 Comanche Gap Road.
City staff, council members and residents have engaged in discussions for years about acquiring the camp. The Tuesday meeting may have been the first official step in acquiring Dana Peak Park as the newest campsite for residents of Harker Heights.
Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Achee led the council through what the Corps of Engineers expects from the city now that it has officially declared it is interested in the park.
Achee, said, “The local office knows that we are keenly interested in the park. In order to let the national office know of our intentions, they request we send them a one-year operational plan and five-year development plan.”
In the past, the city had considered taking over the 110-acre developed area of the park. The total acreage of the park covers 723 acres and extends to Comanche Road, where city maintenance ends.
“We’ve decided to encompass the entire park because we feel our departments could better maintain the land than what the Corps of Engineers has been able to provide,” Achee said.
“The city is hoping to lease the property for at least 25 years.”
Achee described the operational plan by saying that under the first year of new management, the city would install new signage identifying new management of the property, develop a marketing plan that include advertisements about user fees and other informationprior to the opening of the park, the update of information in kiosks to include new marketing materials.
“Marketing and public relations is something that the city is automatically going to bring to the park that the Corps of Engineers doesn’t have,” Achee said. “They don’t have the funds for advertising and recreational activities.
“We’re confident that if we put the amount of energy into the marketing of Dana Peak Park as we’ve done for our other activities and facilities, it’s going to change drastically. One of the major changes is that people will know that the park exists. People who’ve lived here for a while don’t even know the park is here.”
Other first-year requirements include maintenance from flood damage, preparing the park for flood events, preparing financial procedures and policies, improving park management and maintenance and conducting feasibility studies.
When the future of the Dana Peak Park was discussed last year, the financial information available was: $124,000 in fixed asset purchases, $335,000 in total revenue, and $287,000 in operating costs.
Gina Pence, president and CEO of the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce, was in attendance at the meeting and told council members, “We’ve seen potential for events at the park for the past four years. To know that we could move some of our events that have outgrown their current venues and create space for events such as barbecue cook-offs, concerts and more are very exciting to us.”
“The future of our leasing Dana Peak Park is now in the hands of the national office of the Corps of Engineers,” Achee said. “If they agree to our plans and us meeting their guidelines, then we can move forward.
“We don’t have a timeline as yet as to the opening date but will know more when we get the response from the national office,” Achee said.