Highland Village is hoping to turn a park into a camping destination.
The Pilot Knoll Park project is supposed to get new upgrades this summer with new construction projects, according to Community Impact.
“It’s been a [of] couple years’ worth of work, and we’re almost at the end of the tunnel,” Phil Lozano, director of Parks and Recreation, said. “Things are going to start progressing forward, especially with construction and design, and things like that. So, we’re pretty excited.”
Some of the ideas include a new gatehouse, a boat dock, and adding cabins.
According to Lozano, the new cabins are a response to the recent trend of “glamping” that dates back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Glamping is short for “glamorous camping,” which is a far cry from traditional camping.
Some of the features of glamping include electricity, heating and cooling, wi-fi access, private bathrooms with running water, room service, housekeeping, and a restaurant or catering service. Glamping can range from sites near wildlife to resort complexes with multi-room cabins and even fully furnished treehouses.
One example of a glampsite is Camp Long Creek, located in the Missouri Ozark Mountains, where there are king-size beds with chandeliers near Table Rock Lake. It includes a fire pit and an outdoor tub. There are also nearby amenities such as a shooting academy, golf courses, and a full-service marina. There are also numerous dining options at the glampsite.
“As a result of COVID[-19], there were a lot of people who wanted to get out of the house and do some traveling but maybe didn’t want to get involved with flying on an airplane or the requirements for mass travel,” Mayor Daniel Jaworski said to Community Impact. “They would do smaller-scale vacations where they get in the car, or an RV, and go travel to a park and take in some nature.”
The city applied for a $750,000 grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in July, which would pay for some of the costs, which Jaworski estimated to be around $3 million. The Highland Village City Council previously approved the issuance of certificates of obligation for construction improvement projects related to parks in the amount of $6.41 million, of which $2.3 million was allocated for constructing 16 cabins at Pilot Knoll Park, which would cover the balance of the total estimated.
The response to the grant application is expected this month.
But while the fate of the grant is unclear, one thing Jaworski is convinced of is the potential money the new project could make for the village.
“The cabins get us into the business of bringing guests in from out of town,” Jaworski said. “They’re going to stock up on groceries; they’re going to want to entertain themselves; they’re going to go out to dinner, and they’re gonna do all those things in Highland Village.”
Pilot Knoll Park is between 65 and 85 acres depending on the water level, and features overnight camping with either tents or RVs. It’s described on the Highland Village website as being “perfect for nature lovers, campers, hikers, horseback riders, and anyone who likes spending time outdoors.”