Published November 13, 2014
By David Tuma, The Belton Journal
It has taken years and years of work to develop Nolan Creek. Later this week the fabulous extension to Nolan Creek Trail will be unveiled. The opening ceremony for the extension of the Nolan Creek Hike and Bike Trail will be 11:30 a.m. Nov. 14.
But it will not tell the true story of how far the Belton community has come since the Chamber of Commerce and City almost went financial bankrupt in the 1980s and 1990s.
It is a financial and image turnaround of epic proportions. The shockingly beautiful 394 foot walking bridge over Nolan Creek has no equal in the Austin area.
“The walking bridge is huge. There is nothing like it anywhere around here. I can’t think of a walking bridge of this magnitude anywhere in Texas. What makes it so special is the antique pony bridge that is part of the overall bridge,” said Public Relations Officer Paul Romer.
The current extension is 0.3 miles and takes the trail from the Harris Community Center to Martin Luther King Jr. Ave and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. This connects the Belton Christian Youth Center to UMHB in one of the most beautiful areas to walk in a downtown area in Texas.
The first phase was dedicated in 2006 and was originally 1.1. miles connecting BCYC to the Harris Center.
It wasn’t all that long ago the remodeled Harris Center was just a dream. It didn’t happen overnight.
“We developed a plan while I was on the council in the late 1990s, and the improvement was a major priority,” said business owner and former council member Robert Dominguez. “It has taken a long time to develop that plan. Nolan Creek is one of our most beautiful resources. When this is finished, it will be a regional draw. This isn’t just about recreation it adds to the beauty of our community.”
The Nolan Creek Trail, the shops and the restaurants now thriving in the city will help make Belton a place to visit. That means dollars spent at various places, from gas stations to motel rooms. Those dollars pumped into the economy create a rippling effect that will be used to improve the lives of Belton residents.
If you have lived in Belton long enough, there was a time not long ago when you couldn’t even see UMHB’s beautiful campus from Main Street. The Harris Center was a tin roofed deteriorating dream. Even when the creek was first being developed, there were questions about lighting the area for muggers. And yes, I heard those comments. Belton has come a long, long way.
The community has added softball fields for girls, major improvements to the area parks and the list goes on and on. Patriot Way improvements make Central Avenue a fantastic entrance to the community. There is a reason the finest H-E-B grocery store in Texas is located in Belton. It is a fabulous place to live.
“The general public probably doesn’t realize how much this development can help the entire community” said Dominguez. “I think you will see an influx of businesses. Sam Listi had a wonderful plan when you look back on over time. When you look back from when he took over as City Manager until today, it is an amazing transition. He is one of the best small town city mangers in the state. This is an investment and as a community we will see a great return.”
Currently, Nolan Creek is going through another major improvement with the city developing a plan and receiving a grant for white water recreation and flood mitigation. A stretch of Nolan Creek was diverted to work on the improvements the past couple of weeks. The creek was returned to its normal course this week.
“I think students are thrilled to have the hike and bike trail open up,” Dr. Byron Weathersbee, Vice President for Student Life, said. “Instead of running out along the street on Crusader Way, they can jump on the trail at what is almost the heart of campus and run all the way to Nolan Creek.It gives students the opportunity to get outside and renew their minds and spirits and everything else the outdoors allows.”