By Mary Alys Cherry
Clear Lake City may be getting its own version of New York’s Central Park one day soon. Perhaps a “Land of Lakes.”
After many hours of meeting with various citizen groups and conferring with hydrologists and various other experts over the past year, the Clear Lake City Water Authority has drawn up a plan to turn the Clear Lake Golf Course into a beautiful park the community can enjoy and which will add value to property in the area.
As envisioned, it will be a 178-acre chain of five lakes, with a waterfall, picnic areas, hike and bike trails, practice fields, public restrooms, perhaps a concession stand, areas for canoes and kayaks – even a tree just for birds and sitting on an small island so wandering cats can’t snatch them.
The plan was presented to the community at a town hall Feb. 21.
The hike and bike trails, along with existing golf cart trails, would be among the first things done. Each will tie into the various Clear Lake neighborhoods, CLCWA Vice President John Branch said, adding that while the chain of lakes “is just a vision at this point,” he hopes to see become a reality in the not-too–distant future.
Each lake will be six feet deep normally, except in times of heavy rainstorms, and a dam will hold all the water in.
It will have no lighting and will be open during daylight hours only for safety reasons and will have “a nice park-type atmosphere,” Branch said. Sadly, some trees will have to be removed. But 42 percent of them will be saved and hundreds more will be planted, he explained.
The golf course became quite an issue a few years back when a developer bought it, shut the course down and indicated that he wanted to use it to build homes and apartments. He ran into a stumbling block when it was discovered that Exxon Mobil held the deed restrictions, which said the land could only be used for recreational purposes until 2021.
The Water Authority, feeling development of the golf course would cause serious flooding and drainage problems for much of Clear Lake City, finally stepped in and took the land by eminent domain with the intention of using it for water detention and to avert flooding.
It will be done in phases and will take time, probably one to five years to develop each of the five sections for a total of about 15 years. Grants can be used to fund much of the development, Branch added.