CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER
BURNET — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is gathering public input on proposed upgrades and added amenities such as more trails and day-use areas at Burnet County’s Inks Lake State Park and Longhorn Cavern State Park.
The first of two public comment meetings for the Inks Lake Complex Public Use Plan is 6:30-8:30 p.m. March 9 in the second-floor courtroom of the Burnet County Courthouse, 220 S. Pierce St. in Burnet.
Officials will unveil initial plans for areas such as the now-closed golf course at the state park, 3630 Park Road 4.
The upcoming meeting could supplement and/or create additional recommendations.
“We do have some initial thoughts and concepts we’ll be presenting to the public, but all of that is open to feedback and comments from the public,” Inks Lake State Park Superintendent Cory Evans said. “Once we receive input and feedback, we’ll have another comments meeting to discuss the final draft of the public-use plan.”
Because of “lack of use,” the agency in 2010 closed Inks Lake State Park’s 60-acre golf course, located a half-mile south of Texas 29 just off Park Road 4.
“That will be the primary focus of the plan. It mainly centers around the old golf course area,” Evans said. “We are trying to get away from the golf course in our parks. That particular course did not have as much use historically.
“Right now, we’re leaning towards (transforming the old course into) a large day-use area of the park complex,” he added.
Another area of consideration involves the 700-acre site of Longhorn Cavern State Park, located on Park Road 4 several miles from the Inks Lake facility.
The grounds, which feature a network of miles of caves, also have above-ground trails and public day-use amenities.
“We want to take a look at an existing hiking trail … to allow the visitors to Longhorn Caverns to expand the use of that park,” Evans said. “What we would like to do is eventually connect the two parks with a hike/bike trail.
“That would allow users to have an experience where they can hike and bike between the parks and connect the two facilities,” he added.
Another component of the parks upgrades could involve a 16-mile stretch of roadway known as the Park Road 4 Corridor with intersections at both U.S. 281 between Burnet and Marble Falls and Texas 29 west of Burnet.
“What we’d like to do is have people see the historical significance of Park Road 4,” Evans said.
The corridor, developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, maintains a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
A combination of the potential projects could expand and connect amenities to draw visitors to more facilities at one time.
“It really allows the users to have a little more accessibility to the lake and, hopefully, allow more diversity in the types of experiences and activities people have here,” Evans said.
After completion of the two public comments meetings, the planning document will be utilized by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to determine potential funding.
The final draft for the plan could be complete by the end of the summer.
“Once we get the idea of what we’d like to see on the site, then there will be a dollar amount attached to that development,” Evans said. “We want to make sure we are developing the Inks Lake State Park complex for the future and, most importantly, to serve our future users.”