Group Hopes To Restore Longview's Lomond Lake To A Public Park
HIDDEN LAKE - Many cities and towns have public parks and greenspaces that offer a change of scenery for residents. But not many have a lake in the center of town. Lomond Lake is in the middle of Longview, Texas but many residents, they don’t even realize it’s there. That’s because it’s been closed off for years. But a non-profit group Friends of Lake Lomond, has plans to turn the once-private and currently closed-off lake into a public park. Bessie Johnson, is executive director and she says the final result would benefit the city.
“Greenspaces is something that we all know it increases value in a city or town, wherever it is,” Johnson said. “There are studies that show that it just enhances people’s lives there and the live-ability of those places.”
A few years ago, the McWhorter family who owned Lomond lake wanted to donate it to the city but due to associated costs, the effort failed. So a group investors including Bessie Johnson’s husband Hudson Johnson and others purchased property around the lake along with buildings with existing businesses. And the Friends of Lake Lomond was established shortly after.
“We are devoted to partnering with the community to conserve, promote, and enhance Echols park which is what we call the park area, the greenspace that surrounds the lake, and Lake Lomond, through volunteerism, advocacy, innovative programming, and financial support. So we can provide public greenspace and insure access for current and future generations,” Johnson explained.
The non-profit has worked with an urban planning firm and has finished mapping out the general plan for Lomond Lake and Echols Park. That plan comes with a $4.6 million price tag. The first phase, which will consist primarily of a trail around the lake, is about $2 million. Other improvements would include parking space and public restrooms, and eventually offer things like non-motorized boating such as kayaking. As well as a venue for social events. Johnson says once the different phases are complete, Lomond Lake will become an attractive urban feature that may even encourage former residents to consider moving back to Longview just like her husband did.
“It really shows that there are things here for you to come back to, there are things here to be a part of your daily life here that can make it different from how you might’ve known it before but in hope some ways maybe better,” Johnson said.
Funding for the projects will come from donations and grants. To learn more about Lomond Lake’s future go to: https://friendsoflakelomond.org/