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County leaders and neighboring cities have seen an increase in popularity of Tradinghouse Lake Park.

Staff photo— Rod Aydelotte

Power generator Luminant is giving almost 190 acres of park land near Tradinghouse Lake to McLennan County.

The county has leased the land for $1 a year since 1969, and taking over ownership will allow the county to pursue state money for improvements, county administrator Dustin Chapman said. The county is hoping for about $265,000 from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to resurface parking lots, refurbish docking areas and install restrooms, picnic tables and new lighting, Chapman said.

McLennan County commissioners will vote Tuesday on accepting the gift. County Judge Scott Felton, who lives in eastern McLennan County near Tradinghouse Lake, said he expects no opposition.

“We’ve been maintaining this park for 40-something years,” Felton said. “A former constable, Danny Tate, tends to it with mowing machines and shredders, and inmates are taken out there for litter abatement.”

Felton said adding amenities to Tradinghouse Lake, with its rolling terrain and natural vegetation, should make it an even more valuable asset.

“Through our Luminant generation facilities and TXU’s retail sale of electricity, our companies are dedicated community partners in the Waco area and have been since the early 1950s,” Luminant vice president of operations Matt Goering wrote in a press release. “We put that commitment in action when the county approached us about acquiring the park property by agreeing to donate the land.”

Chapman said the county plans a park improvement project valued at $353,200, with $264,970 provided by Texas Parks and Wildlife.

The county will be more confident in putting up money for improvements when it owns the land, Felton said.

Free park entry

Park entry will remain free, Chapman said. State law forbids counties from charging admission to county-owned recreational areas, he said.

John Tibbs, supervisor for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Inland Fisheries Waco District, said news of Luminant’s donation is exciting.

Park improvements should attract more outdoors enthusiasts, including anglers pursuing abundant black bass, channel catfish and crappie, Tibbs said.

For decades, the Tradinghouse power plant discharged warm water from the Brazos River into the lake, which it used for cooling a gas-fired plant that was shut down in 2010 and demolished by 2014.

Luminant has since expressed interest in placing a new gas-fired power plant at Tradinghouse.

It has a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality permit to build a plant and a permit amendment application pending that is intended to ease area leaders’ concerns about compliance with federal ozone standards.

There has been no decision to build any power plant at this time, Luminant spokesman Brad Watson said via email.

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