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TxDOT moves forward on park

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

City and county officials announced this week that the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) plans to move forward with construction of the SH-130 Plum Creek Wetland Mitigation site at the beginning of 2008.
A groundbreaking ceremony originally scheduled for Dec. 17 has been put off until January. After the ceremony

, construction of the site is expected to progress quickly.
The Wetlands Mitigation site has been a source of concern and, at times, conflict, for community leaders. Although TxDOT will initially construct the site and oversee maintenance for five years, the site, 260 acres of restored wetlands, will be the responsibility of a cooperative effort of the City of Lockhart and Caldwell County.
In connection with the construction and upcoming maintenance of the site, both entities will receive “seed money” in the amount of $200,000. The County has chosen to hold those funds in trust and use them for maintenance of the site. The City of Lockhart will use the funds for maintenance, but also plans to construct a picnic area, restroom facilities, a playscape and a parking lot, hoping to turn the site into a “nature park.”
The bulk of the amenities will be located in the front portion of the site, near the area where the Plum Creek Bridge on Highway 183 North is located. The rear of the park will be the more natural area, containing crushed gravel hiking trails, and perhaps educational kiosks, but will go largely undeveloped. The Caldwell County Commissioners Court has considered moving an abandoned, historical bridge from elsewhere in the county to the site, restoring it and using it where access roads to be built by TxDOT will cross Plum Creek. However, although it has been discussed, no firm plans have been made to take action on the idea.
Opponents of the city”s plan to develop a park area on the site express concerns, not over the funds required to maintain the park, but about the possibility that anything constructed on the site will be at risk of being washed away in a flood. The entire site is in an area known for flooding with high, rushing waters during times of heavy rain and flooding.
City officials, though, hope to ensure the public that steps will be taken to mitigate the possibility of flooding while the site is being developed.
The Plum Creek creekbottom was chosen by TxDOT last year as an appropriate place for restoration of some 260 acres of wetlands destroyed by the construction of State Highway 130. The selection of the site put on hold Lockhart”s potential plan to dam Plum Creek and create “Lake Lockhart,” a long-standing dream of many city and county leaders.

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