By LIBBY CLUETT
STRAWN – Nearly 65 Strawn residents and individuals from around the region gathered Thursday evening in Strawn's Opal Guest Chapel to hear from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff working on developing the Palo Pinto Mountains State Park.
The main topic of the forum was to gather Strawn citizens' feedback on possibly deeding Tucker Lake – the city's water source – to the Palo Pinto Mountains State Park. This didn't keep several equestrians, including members of the Texas Equestrian Trail Riders Association, from attending, seemingly chomping at the bit for a chance to ride in the state's newly minted park.
While the park is years from being officially opened to the public, TPWD officials said there would likely be chances for individuals and volunteer organizations to access the land on a limited basis, once they have fully assessed the property and know what activities it will support.
Strawn Mayor Carl Frazier opened the meeting by explaining that the idea proposed is for the city to hand over roughly 110 acres of land immediately surrounding the city's 90-acre Tucker Lake to the new park. TPWD would become stewards of the land, along with the nearly 4,000 acres the state agency purchased for the park, and could then build cabins around the lake and develop the area for recreational use, which would draw revenue to Strawn.
There would be a written agreement between TPWD and the city, and Frazier said they are just in the beginning stages of deciding what the agreement would look like. He noted that compensation would come from the increase in future sales-tax revenue and related increased economic development within the city.
The proposed agreement would likely not include the dam and spillway area, according to Frazier and speakers at Thursday's meeting.
“I'd like to know how you feel about this,” the mayor told the crowd. “I'd be reluctant to sign away anything that belongs to the city without your blessing.”