$3.3 million worth of improvements slated for Topaz Lake Park | RecordCourier.com

$3.3 million worth of improvements slated for Topaz Lake Park

by Christy Chalmers, staff writer

Big changes are on the horizon for Topaz Lake Park.

Douglas County recently approved a master plan that could transform the park from a seasonal, water-focused facility to a regional, year-round base for all kinds of outdoor pastimes.

The plan outlines an estimated $3.3 million worth of changes at the park including a new access road, more boat docks, new restrooms, expanded campgrounds, more RV hookups, and eventually, amenities like an amphitheater, boat and RV storage, biking and hiking trails and a new recreation center.

“Based on what we’ve been hearing from the users in the area about what they’d like, we would like to shift it to a family camping and family activity area rather than a water-based campground,” said Scott Morgan, who oversees the parks and recreation department. “We would like to see it done within seven to 10 years.”

Currently, the park has 69 camping and RV spaces, a boat ramp, playground and restrooms and caters to lake users.

The master plan was commissioned after Douglas County got a 25-year lease for the park in 1999. Topaz Lake is owned and operated by the Walker River Irrigation District, so Douglas officials had been reluctant to plan any major improvements without a long-term pact.

With the lease signed and the master plan finished, Morgan said the next step is an archaeological search. After that, the county will seek federal grant funds through the Nevada Department of Wildlife, probably in the 2001-2002 fiscal year.

Morgan said he is confident of getting money because Topaz Lake is considered an important sport fishing area and the county hasn’t gotten funding before. The initial money would pay for grading and infrastructure improvements, he said, with future phases to include additions like boat docks and RV spaces.

The first phase of improvements has an estimated cost of just over $1 million. A second phase is estimated at $1.6 million and the third is $745,000.

“If there’s a demand for it, I think we would contemplate year-round use of the facility,” said Morgan.

The Nevada Division of Wildlife money would require the county to pay $1 for every $3 received, though the match can come from in-kind services such as labor and equipment.

The master plan notes operating costs would nearly double, and some of those costs would be paid using gate receipts and other fees assessed to park users.

But those users could also help boost Douglas County’s tourism trade.

“This is a unique park in that it is specialized as a campground,” said Morgan. “Most parks are for a neighborhood or community. Although this is identified as a community use facility, it is also intended to attract tourists.

“We think it will be a nice addition to Douglas County.”