Weatherford is moving forward to construct a boardwalk near Lake Weatherford and develop areas around the lake.
Last week, the city’s Municipal Utility Board recommended that the Parks, Recreation and Special Events Department take steps toward the $2.8 million project. No formal action was taken.
The boardwalk would stretch from East Lake Drive to West Lake Drive below the Farm-to-Market Road 730 bridge, Parks, Recreation and Special Events Department Director Shannon Goodman said. The project would also renovate Azle Park, which is planned to be renamed, with the installation of curbs and gutters, a parking lot, fishing pier, native landscaping, seating areas, restrooms and pavilion. Other areas around the lake would be addressed on a smaller scale by cleaning up the waterfront, addressing parking and adding landscaping and seating areas.
The next step in the process is talking to vendors and getting quotes on the materials, including the boardwalk itself, for approval, Goodman said. So far, construction is planned for the fall.
“We’ve got to get some exact measurements now out on the lake and get it down to the exact distances so that we can kind of put a quote together,” Goodman said. “Once that quote’s together I can take that back to utility board to get approval to go ahead and make the purchase and get that product ordered. It’ll take a while to get all that ordered.”
The utility board manages the use of lake properties and is the funding source of the project, Goodman said.
The idea for this project came up during the development of the master plan, in which input from the public was taken, Goodman said. Certain properties around the lake are undeveloped, and people want to utilize them.
“It’s just been an ongoing process through talking to residents and everything else on how we start improving those properties,” Goodman said.
Adding a dog park and birdwatching center also came up during the discussion of the project in the utility board meeting. Some members said a dog park isn’t necessary since people do other activities with their dogs, so the project is proceeding without that.
“People will hike with their dog on Quanah Hill, in and around there’s a large area that people use,” Vice Chairperson Heidi Wilder said.
Board Member Jeff Robinson said he likes the idea of cleaning up the areas around the lake. He said the boardwalk has the opportunity to attract people from outside of Weatherford, but he focused on what the project would do for Weatherford residents.
“I think the boardwalk would be a good idea. I guess some of my concerns with it is the lake at times gets very shallow down there,” Robinson said. “I think maintenance and upkeep is going to be a lot especially during those times.”
Goodman responded to Robinson during the meeting that the department would repair damage and continue to maintain the park areas.
Board Member Ken Davis said the birdwatching center part of the plan could bring in economic development. Board Member Howard McClurkin agreed that the birdwatchers may come from the Metroplex and Oklahoma to the center.
“The benefit I see with the birdwatchers is bring them out from the Metroplex and you might have some further economic development that can come to town, have some lunch, go to First Monday, York Street, make a day of it,” Davis said.
McClurkin said he is confident that the parks department will research and talk to other communities about the project.
“I'm going to place my bet on them,” McClurkin said.
Robinson recommended getting the police department involved to prevent vandalism while Wilder suggested the lake association could take a part in keeping the lake areas nice.
The board will consider approval of contracts next, Deputy City Manager James Hotopp said.
“As this progresses through the next couple of years, there will be multiple discussions about this coming forward to the utility board,” Hotopp said. “There’s also additional revenue that will be coming in to that fund, so we’ll be able to kind of show you how that’s cash flowing moving forward.”