Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fantastic News!

Thanks Sandy for this enlightening information. The lake will reopen! Oh happy days. (*rawrg* stupid 'tell us what you're' thingy is busted again! I keep getting errors . . . .)
By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald

TEMPLE – Days like Tuesday, with children playing on the beach at Temple's Lake Park, picking up shells and eating picnic lunches with their parents, but with bigger crowds, could be around the corner for most of parks alongside Belton and Stillhouse Hollow lakes.

"I come out here frequently," Sally Papaloannou, of Copperas Cove, said Tuesday staring across the landscape of picnic tables being erected on cement slabs throughout the grounds of Temple's Lake Park. "The lake and the beauty of the lake remind me of Greece."

Papaloannou, whose children were playing along the edge of the lapping water, has been coming to the park for about five years; the last time she walked in the park was November, she said.

There were trenches and hills from where workers were spreading out dirt then, she said.

Those trenches and hills were part of the rebuilding efforts the Army Corps of Engineers is currently managing for many of the parks alongside Belton and Stillhouse Hollow lakes.

Most of the parks were devastated after the 2007 summer rains, which flooded the lakes, said Daniel Thomasson, Belton and Stillhouse lakes park manager.

"What we had happen in a lot of cases, the buildings went completely under and stayed under ...," Thomasson said.

When the water went down, "I watched these buildings come apart in two to three days," he added.

Thomasson hopes that most of the parks will be fully opened by summer. This is more than likely a reality for every park except Dana Peak on Stillhouse Hollow Lake, he said.

Dana Peak, whose boat ramp is expected to open in a few months, will probably not be fully open until the end of summer, Thomasson said.

The park received the most damage from the floods and is taking the longest to fix, Thomasson said.

The Army Corps of Engineers decided to move the gate house for Dana Peak farther away from the lake and change some of the roadwork there, Thomasson.

The Corps has also gone with more flood-resistant structures, Thomasson said. For instance, the picnic area will have a cement slab and a metal two-column overhang.

Fifty-two of those types of picnic tables are going into Temple's Lake Park, and another 64 will be distributed between Stillhouse Park and Dana Peak, Thomasson said.

Most of the rebuilding has been completed at both lakes, Thomasson said. There are more than 100 contracts for task work.

About 70 percent of the park's water-dead tree and brush contract is complete, and about 75 percent to 85 percent of the parks' infrastructure has been fixed.

The parks are being rebuilt, but they won't look much different.

"We are restricted to putting back what was there," Thomasson said.

The facilities will, however, be new and more aesthetically pleasing, Thomasson said.

"Where there was a restroom that is 30 years old, you will see a restroom that is newer and nicer," Thommason said.

Belton Lake has about 2.5 million visitors each summer; Stillhouse Hollow Lake has about 900,000 visitors.

But due to the rains and damage, numbers have been down for the last two years.

"I think we will be close to those numbers," Thomasson said. "I really do."

Contact Mason W. Canales at or (254) 501-7554.

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