Lake Wichita efforts heating up

KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) –

Greg Aultman grew up on Lake Wichita and has fond memories.

“Back in the 1960’s on Saturdays and Sundays this place was full,” Aultman said. “You would have to watch out when pulling somebody skiing.”

Now he’s retired and spends a lot of his time play music at the park. It’s a spot near and dear to his heart.

That’s why he’s so excited about Wichita Falls’ efforts to revitalize the lake.

“I think a lot of people would have good times out here,” Aultman said. “It would be cool. You could get out on the pier at night and walk your sweetheart across there. Steal a couple kisses. It would be pretty nice.”

On Tuesday, councilors accepted a $500,000 grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to expand the boat ramp to four lanes, add a boat dock, seawall, restrooms, and a sidewalk.

In June of 2016, they accepted a separate $500,000 grant from the TPWD for a boardwalk and other shoreline improvements.

Deputy City Manager Jim Dockery said the city is considering a bond issue to pay for some of the shoreline improvements.

In the meantime, the Lake Wichita Revitalization Committee will need to raise $666,000 to match both of those grants or they will have to be paid for by the city. However, the committee said they will be able to raise the funds.

Dockery said accepting these grants is just one piece of the puzzle.

“It’s really just a matter of prioritization,” he said. “A matter of deciding whether or not the public is interested in these types of improvements, how much private funding we can raise, and how much we can do at one time.”

“Anything we can do for the quality of life issues in Wichita Falls, things for families to do, things for kids to do, we want to enhance those,” Mayor, Stephen Santellana said.

Mayor Santellana believes the improvements will also help when recruiting businesses to the Falls.

“We can say look we have Castaway Cove, we have a golf park, a 20-mile walking trail,” he said. “All these beautiful parks, plus look at Lake Wichita and all the shoreline improvements with the boardwalk and Veterans Plaza.”

In the meantime, Aultman will continue to play his music at Lake Wichita Park and wait for the city’s vision to come to fruition.