Construction starting soon at former Bryan municipal golf course

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BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - Big changes are coming to Bryan’s Municipal Lake. The city is draining it to make way for new improvements.

Starting Monday, you’ll see fencing go up around the lake, as well as the former municipal golf course on Villa Maria Road. City Engineer Paul Kaspar said they hope to drain the lake this summer after a company comes in to relocate fish. The city plans to widen and enlarge the lake as part of improvements for the new Travis Bryan Midtown Park.

“They will be responsible for making that happen. They will have their boats on the lake starting next Monday, likely, and doing that fish removal, taking those fish downstream within the same Burton Creek watershed,” said Kaspar.

The major improvements and cleanup come to a lake known for pollution in the past. Decades ago, the Municipal Lake was contaminated with arsenic by an upstream chemical plant. During this process, arsenic remaining in the soil will be removed.

“There’s some concern out there of having sediment in the bottom and the arsenic levels there. We want to make sure that the citizens feel comfortable that when this project is done and we have a restored lake and a renewed lake,” said Kaspar.

Some residents, though, still worry about arsenic remaining in the lakebed and what will happen to wildlife. The city has a plan to only relocate fish.

“There’s not a plan to relocate the turtles here in the lake, and there’s some thought the turtles may be killed during this process of draining the lake,” said Robert Rose of Bryan, who ran for Mayor last year. He's expressed those concerns to the city in recent months.

“There needs to be a more comprehensive approach to the relocation of the wildlife,” said Rose.

Others, like Timothy Washington of Bryan, were scooping out the lake for fishing. He’s excited about the changes.

“Oh yeah. I’m sure looking forward to the improvements. I mean, I've never seen improvements here, so a new improvement is going to be good,” said Washington.

The city expects the area of the park to be closed to the public through the end of 2021. They also said you can expect some smells from the area when the lake dries.

"Right now the sediments, all the organic material from fish and everything else is laying on the bottom of the lake. We take that water off it and it's going to start drying out and we'd expect to have odors coming from the lake for the first few weeks as we're in that drying process. So we just wanted folks to not be alarmed that is a normal process," said Kaspar.

This work is part of $70 million in improvements coming to the Travis Bryan Midtown Park. Work will also start soon on a new road extension to Bomber Drive from Villa Maria Road.

The city plans to refill the lake and stock it with new fish once that phase of the project is finished.

During the work the Astin Recreation Area will be closed but Williamson Park will stay open.