“Dancing for the Stars” and “Lake Wichita Revitalization” were the topics of presentations made to the January membership luncheon of the North Texas Home Builders Association Thursday, Jan. 8, at the Kemp Center for the Arts. The luncheon was catered by Texas Best.
Anthony Patterson and Jennifer Blackwell gave a dance preview for the upcoming “Dancing for the Stars Wichita Falls” fundraising event that will be held Feb. 6, at the Wichita Falls County Club to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Dance teams will be earning pre-votes prior to the competition based on donations received at http://www.bbbstx.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1127584
Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Midwestern State University Small Business Development Center are collaborating to bring awareness to the importance of mentoring the youth in our community. Anthony Patterson noted, “Together, we are in the business of developing productive citizens, one child at a time.”
The presentation concerning “The Revitalization of Lake Wichita” was presented by Steve Garner, chairman of the Lake Wichita Revitalization Committee, and Tom Lang, fisheries management supervisor for the Wichita Falls District Fisheries Office of the Texas Parks & Wildlife. Lake Wichita Revitalization Committee member Larry Scott also attended to support his group.
The Originally built in 1901, Lake Wichita is the third oldest lake in Texas. Originally 2,200 acres, the lake lost shoreline after the dam and spillway were rebuilt in 1995. The lake lost 4.5 feet in elevation and 1,000 surface acres. This also affected the aquatic habitat.
The recent drought has nearly dried up the remaining lake. The boat ramp is unusable. The fishery is completely gone from three fish kill events in 2012. There is little public use and the lake is essentially dry. That is why the ideal time to improve the lake is now .
In May, 2013, the city council created a committee to study the lake and create an action plan. The committee reviewed the lake’s history, gathered information on desired uses, and presented an improvement plan and management document to the city council. To create a long-term recreation destination project, the committee needs a permit from the United States Corps of Engineers. The Tulsa office of the Corps of Engineers said they could approve a project within 90-120 days of receiving a permit application.
Phase one of the action plan is to remove 110 years or more of siltation from the lakebed. That includes excavating and removing seven million cubic yards of material. Excavating the dry lakebed will cut the cost in half and ease permitting. The plan also calls for reconnecting to the water shed and deepening the channels.
The plan includes connecting the city trail from Barnett Road to Lake Wichita Park, building earthen and concrete piers off the trail on the east side of the lake, and adding beach areas at Lake Wichita Park and at emergency spillway area. The plan also calls for expanding and adding boat ramps, adding a wounded veterans inlet, and building a pedestrian bridge over the spillway and expanding the trail to the east side of the lake to create commercial development.
Phase Two includes the commercial development with shops and restaurants, constructing a pavilion for gatherings, weddings, and other events, providing fishing piers on the dam, and having a water sports complex with kayaking trail and wake boarding park. They also want to add a west side camping area.
Garner and Lang believe the economic impact just from rebuilding the lake will be 700 to 900 jobs, $68 to $80 million in total sales, $42 to $50 million in added value, and additional $31 to $36 million in added income. The total project should take approximately one and one-half to three years.
The cost starts with the USACE 404 permit ($316,250). The largest expense is the excavation and beach area ($36-$42 million). Other costs include the trail and piers ($3 million), boat ramps ($350,000), spillway bridge ($500,000), brush control ($150,000), fish restocking ($250,000 and paid for by Texas Parks & Wildlife), water sports complex ($2-3 million), and three fishing piers ($105,000). These cost estimates are from an independent source, the Genter Consulting Group LLC.
The funding strategies include getting federal and state grants, foundation grants, non-profit grants, and business and private donations.
For more information about the Lake Wichita Revitalization Project, visit www.facebook.com/ourlakeourlife.
Garner and Lang stressed that we have a golden opportunity to rebuild the lake and make it a wonderful recreation area for the citizens of this area for decades to come.