Construction on the Lake Weatherford Dam started in June of 1956. The City of connections to the existing roads in the area were completed. That same year were offered for license to citizens of Weatherford or Parker County. The original license fees varied from $28 to $70 per year. There was access to power to most lots; however, there was no water or sewer and full time residency was not permitted. Mobile trailers of any sort were not allowed. It was even then a fun place and soon came some serious fishing, boating, water skiing, barbecue and Weatherford had no clue what they were giving life to. The dam was completed in March of 1957. That year produced heavy spring rains and the lake was full soon after impoundments began. Another extremely important project was connections to the existing roads in the area were completed. That same year the City platted approximately 425 small lots between this new road and the 896’In 1959 it became required for licensees to install septic systems if they were going to overnight at their lot. Pumping small amounts of water from the lake was allowed to operate septic systems and for lawn watering. In or around 1963 the City rules were relaxed to allow out of City and County ownership of licenses. It was about this time that we saw increased “development” as picnic lots sprung cabins and little cabins grew larger and so on. We were still an eclectic mix of structures and folks, but fishing and boating and summer fun were still the main ingredients of our neighborhood. This laid back relaxed situation continued for the next 23 years. Each of these years brought ever more activity at Lake Weatherford.
This 23 year era saw one major high water event in October-November 1981. This was the first flooding catastrophe in the lake’s history and it was very bad. Approximately 135 dwellings had water in them from 1” to 7’ deep. This old timer actually observed a cabin along West Lake Drive with the owner’s fishing boat floating on his roof. That year water reached elevation 903’ to 904’ which is seven to eight feet above the spillway elevation. There was two or three lesser flood events in the next nine years with water over the roads and in many cabins but 1981 remained the worst. 1985 – THE END OF “THE WAY WE WERE” AND THE BEGINNING OF “THE WAY WE ARE”
In 1985 and early 1986 routine water quality tests were indicating that many septic systems were not being maintained properly or were overused and the effluent from these systems was beginning to pollute the lake. It had to be corrected. On November 13, 1986 the Director of Utilities James Dickerson and the City of Weatherford Utility Board held a public meeting to discuss this pollution problem and possible solutions. The Board expected 50 to 75 people. They were surprised and pleased at the interest. Well over 325 attended and it was standing room only at the Harbinger Hill Community Center. Most of us who were there were very concerned about being able to continue the use of our lots. This was perhaps the City’s first glimpse of the importance of the community and lake lifestyle to the licensees.
The choices presented to the license holders were fairly simple. We could vacate our license and remove all improvements or we could agree to pay for the installation of a new water and sewer system through increased license fees. One hundred percent of the licensees at the meeting accepted that proposal. The City in turn said they would extend our leases to fifteen years to facilitate loans and enhance construction and improvements around the lake. Although not part of the original proposal, full time residency was allowed upon completion of the sewer system and was made a part of our new lease agreement in 1991. We were now on our way from big fun in the sun to a unique residential community.
1991 – THE LAKE Weatherford COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION IS FORMED
The summer of 1991 saw the beginning of many positive changes for this infant residential community. The new pressurized sewer system was installed, tested and put online. Our sewer system is not ordinary and it required a bigger learning curve to make it operate in a trouble free manner. After a few initial problems were worked out, the system has proven to be very reliable, especially when you consider the uneven nature of the area. As expected, the new license agreement was calling for a sharp increase in fees but it was for 15 years and allowed us full time residency. The fishing camp era, which now had lasted 34 years, was officially over and the Lake Weatherford Community was on the brink of taking a new thriving direction.
All of these changes created lots of questions, confusion, concerns and frustration. Rumors and misinformation circulated wildly. Bob Odgers, our “founding father” decided we needed to organize to speak with one voice to the City, both to our benefit as well as theirs. He started visiting with people all around the lake about some sort of community organization and through his efforts volunteers were recruited to pass the word. We have Bob to thank for stirring us to action to form this Association. Our organizational meeting was held on August 3, 1991 at the Parker County Sportsman’s Club with 80 or more licensees attending. Everyone agreed that we needed an organization to represent our interests and to establish lines of communication. A vote was unanimous to form the Lake Weatherford Leaseholders Association (later changed to Lake Weatherford Community Association). Temporary officers and committee members were appointed and we were off and running. Officers that first year were Bob Odgers, President; Danny Lee, V. President; and Mary Jo Shepherd, Secretary- Treasurer. They did not waste any time getting busy with the Association’s business. On August 16, 1991 Bob, Danny and Sam Moughon met with the Utility Board to discuss items of concern. This was the first of many. During that first meeting with the Mayor and three members of the Utility Board it was obvious these powers in charge did not view this new organization with a friendly acceptance. All of those first officials the LWCA dealt with have now moved on but we are still here. Even though many of the names have changed, both on our side and theirs, the Association continues to be a presence at City hall and to provide important input to the City regarding member problems and concerns as well as maintaining an avenue of communication from the City back to our members.
In 1996 the new water system, purification plant and our new lake side fire station were completed. Fire hydrants were installed and a safer community was created. Almost ten years after the first meeting at Harberger Hill Community Center our utility system installation around the lake had come to fruition. This is when more homes, bigger and finer started to pop up around the lake.
2003 – 2007 “NO COMPROMISE” LICENSE FEE NEGOTIATIONS WITH CITY OFFICIALS
Our fifteen year license term, which began at the time of completion of the sewer system, was due to be reassessed in 2006. At this time our share of the funding for the utilities was paid in full. During this lease term the City collected an additional 1.3 million dollars over and above the cost of the utilities. This represented a 6% annual increase in our pre-1991 fee for each of the fifteen years. We naively assumed that at the end of these 15 years when our utilities were paid for our fee would revert to the old fee plus the 6% increase already built in. During these years a good many of our City Officials became “anti – lake community” bullies and our Association did not see this coming, even though we should have. The City’s new proposal was exorbitantly high. The original proposed increase was 298.94% over 3 years and 6% annually of an appraised value from then on. The appraised value started out at $ 44,900 per lot. This appraisal data was extremely flawed and subsequently withdrawn by the City after one of our members worked to prove substantial errors were made by the professional firm that prepared it. However, the City still was determined to raise our fees tremendously and felt justified in doing so. One of the members of the Utility Board stated in a meeting that “the lake people have been stealing from the real citizens of Weatherford for years”. This is not hearsay but was witnessed by several LWCA members in a meeting. The Association soon recognized the need for legal representation. After many meetings back and forth between the two parties with LWCA being the big underdog in this battle of words, we were led to believe that we could possibly get a true real estate lease instead of a license. Our attorneys spent a lot of time and money preparing a real estate lease for review by the city. Legal fees had now reached $30,000. The association was very low on funds. The city refused the real estate lease. The Association was down but not out. No more lawyers. Our own members formed a committee to represent LWCA and meet with a new committee formed by the Weatherford Utility Board. After four meetings and one more year passed by there had been no meaningful negotiations on the City’s part. In the end, the board did give LWCA some relief on a few items that improved our license agreement and fee structure. This was and is a very unfair situation to be bullied into an agreement of this sort. By October 1, 2006 all lake residents had to sign a new lease agreement or we could leave. This was an unfortunate era in our history.
ACTIVITIES OF OUR ASSOCIATION
Our 1st year saw the establishment of many traditions including our most important annual event – the PICNIC. On June 13, 1992 and in each and every June since then we have held this event in the park at Mikus and East Lake. This is when we have election of officers and directors and update our members on activities and goings on at the City. Good food, good neighbors and good fun are the rule. We established our CRIME WATCH PROGRAM in 1992 and participate in CRIME WATCH NIGHT OUT. We have significantly lowered our crime incidents as a result. We participated in the Parker County Committee on Aging’s “CHRISTMAS IN APRIL” program, helping to do maintenance and repairs on elderly residents’ homes. We did this every year until they stopped doing it in the County. We participated in the City’s CLEANSCAPE program, picking up trash along a nine mile route around the lake. Our first ANNUAL 4TH OF JULY BOAT PARADE was held that first year also. May of 1995 marked our first annual LAKEWIDE GARAGE SALE. That first sale lasted two days and we had 32 participants. The thinking was that there was lots of stuff on the east side that folks on the west side needed and vice versa. Apparently this was true because these sales have been very successful. In December, 1996 we entered a float in the Weatherford CHRISTMAS PARADE and won 1st place in the civic category. We have continued this tradition almost every year since and consistently win trophies, make friends and have fun. The Association has sponsored Christmas Lights Contests and Golf Tournaments in the past and perhaps will do so again if there is interest.
GONE . . . . . . . BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
FLOODS (We Hope): Flooding became a constant during the years 1982 to 1992. Water over the roads and in yards seemed a common occurrence and flooded cabins happened frequently. In December, 1991 our uncontrolled spillway, fondly know as the doughnut, floated out of the ground about 4’ causing serious flooding. This water stayed up until January 24, 1992 when the city cut a temporary opening to allow water to flow through the park and back into the river. In January, 1993 construction started to demolish the old spillway, build a new inlet and tunnel. Also the road over the dam was relocated and 3 feet added to the height. The final solution was a good one. The newly designed spillway was tested by building a real working model which showed when water entered the flat side of the doughnut structure it actually accelerated to get out thus sucking more water into the process. Since this has been built we have had only minor yard flooding. Our new Association was extremely active during this time providing constant communication to our members about what was happening, why it was happening and how it was going to be fixed. We saved many phone calls to the City and provided our members with accurate and up to date information on the crisis.
LOTS 560 through 596: These licenses were cancelled by the City in 1992 and by the fall of 1993 all structures had been removed except docks. Originally the City planned to close that portion of East Lake Drive that allowed access to these lots but this was never done. This is the park area at the north end of the lake on East Lake Drive.
AQUATIC VEGETATION: Sometime in the mid-1980’s weeds started taking over our lake. It got so bad that you had to row a boat 50’ out past your dock before starting the motor. Forget trying to swim or float in your tube. It also negatively affected the taste of the treated water. In 1990 the City got permission and funding to release approximately 1,100 tripled (sterile) grass carp into the lake. Pretty soon, no more weeds. Those ugly cages on West Lake at the north end were placed to see how thick the vegetation would be where the carp could not reach. When there is water there they are usually full of aquatic growth.
ROAD OVER THE DAM: Most old-timers miss this one. Before they modified the dam and rerouted the road in 1992 you actually drove right over the dam to get to the other side of the lake. We all remember when we had hard rains and you could drive up there and watch the water pour out the spillway!
FIREWORKS: Banned forever. Most of us understand why the City officials have cracked down on this tradition, but it sure was fun while it lasted. There was nothing quite like floating around in the middle of the lake and watching them explode from all directions or sitting on the end of your dock watching your neighbor burn up his money. Going to Lake Weatherford for the 4th was tradition for anyone who even remotely knew someone who had a place. Now all we can do is watch the guy across the street in the county burn his money! The last couple of years the marina has sponsored a city permitted fireworks display and the Association has contributed funds for that.
HONEY WAGONS FROM TRINITY MEADOWS: Squaw Creek Downs used to be known as Trinity Meadows Raceway and when it opened for big time racing in 1991 they didn’t have a sewer system. They collected the stuff, pumped it into trucks and drove it to a City of Weatherford pump station. These continuous trips went on until 1994 when a new sewer line hooked in at the intersection of East and West Lake Drives.
BEAVERS: Sometime in 1992 beavers became a real problem around the lake. Many a resident lost shrubs and trees to these guys. We fought them for several years with fencing around our trees. They seem to have moved on as we haven’t seen any for years now.
PARKER COUNTY SPORTSMAN’S CLUB FIRING RANGE: This facility, located at the corner of White Settlement Road and West Lake Drive, has been gone for many years now but many of us still remember those Saturday mornings spent with the sound of guns firing constantly.
MIRANT POWER PLANT: Nineteen ninety-nine saw the first rumblings about a new gas fired power plant being built by Southern Energy on the north side of the lake at East Lake and 730. The fight began in earnest in the spring of 2000 when the Lake Weatherford Community Association became a Party in the Contested Case Hearing before the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission protesting the issuance of the Acid Rain Permit to Southern Energy. Many Association members also joined Citizens for a Clean County, an organization formed specifically to fight this power plant construction. The LWCA as an organization and individual members joined forces with CCC to fight this plant, both financially and with manpower. Many residents wrote letters, testified at local hearings and even traveled to Austin to support this fight. This protest successfully delayed the permitting process. Original completion was to be July 2000. We lost our first hearing process by a vote of 2 to 1 and the permit was approved. In March 2002 Citizens for a Clean County filed an appeal which delayed construction once again. By this time Mirant (formerly Southern energy) was having severe financial problems and eventually went into bankruptcy. The battle to stop Mirant was hard fought and expensive. Even though we technically lost our fight to stop the clean air permit, LWCA and CCC can take full credit for delaying the process and preventing the start of construction for several years. Eventually, the bankruptcy court placed the property for sale and our neighbors and the driving force behind the Citizens for a Clean County, Johnny and TK Helm and TK’s brother, Jack Knox bought the property and the associated permits. They have vowed that the property will never be used for industrial purposes. We win!
LWCA CONTINUES TO SERVE ITS MEMBERS AND THE GENERAL LAKE COMMUNITY
The Association has dealt with many serious issues through the years. LWCA continues to work helping to create a better neighborhood, provide accurate information and to be a channel back to the city for member’s questions and concerns. Ongoing conversations, both formal and informal, are an invaluable function of LWCA. The City knows we are interested and will be informed about any subject involving our community. They know we pay attention so they pay attention to us. We like to think our community is the nicest, friendliest and certainly the best represented neighborhood in the city.
We wish to thank our historical contributors, Cathy and Danny Lee, for their hard work and good memories. If you have any additional information to add to this history, please forward it to me at ericrosemann@yahoo,com
LAKE Weatherford COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION, LWCA, Lake Weatherford, Weatherford, LW-CA