FORT WORTH — Campers and boaters will have to find other spots for recreation at Benbrook Lake after the Army Corps of Engineers abruptly closed Rocky Creek Park on Tuesday morning.The park closed after the corps canceled a joint management agreement with the nonprofit foundation Our Lands and Waters late last week.Rhonda Paige, a spokeswoman for the Fort Worth district office of the corps, said the park is closed until further notice.“There are no attendants at the gate, and there is a ‘closed’ sign,” Paige said. She said one camper at the park was “relocated” to another park at Benbrook Lake. “This is an unfortunate decision,” she said.She said Rocky Creek has no camping reservations through September. But if the closing of the park continues into October — the beginning of the new fiscal year — it could have an impact, she said.If people have paid in advance to use the parks, they can transfer the reservation to a recreation area that is still open.Tim MacAllister, assistant chief of operations with the Corps of Engineers’ Fort Worth district, said Rocky Creek is the smallest park on Benbrook Lake.The corps also closed Ticky Creek and Avalon parks at Lake Lavon, but the areas were already scheduled to close for the winter starting in October, he said.MacAllister said no other park closures are planned.“Right now, we are looking at the best way to operate the parks, whether it’s with volunteers or through contracting. … This is all happening fairly quickly,” he said.Late last week, the corps said it had conducted a “legal review” of joint management agreements and leases it had with the foundation for Benbrook Lake, Lewisville Lake, Lake Lavon and Sam Rayburn Reservoir.The agreement, which dates to 2009, allowed the nonprofit foundation to collect fees from campers, swimmers and boaters and put that money toward maintaining parks and facilities in the jointly managed areas.But a news release late last week said that after a legal review of the agreements between the corps and the foundation, the fees must be deposited in the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the U.S. Treasury and cannot be retained by the local foundation.“The foundations and all of our volunteers have been outstanding to work with,” MacAllister said.“We are hoping to come to some reasonable resolution. This is one of those situations; we want to make sure that we are doing the right thing on the part of taxpayers. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong,” he said.
Elizabeth Campbell, 817-390-7696 Twitter: @fwstliz