It's Happening: Lake of Dreams

By Julie Perine on August 02, 2017 via

I think most consider Hinkle and Deegan Lakes among the city’s most desirable spots. More than one of my friends call it their happy place and I agree. There’s something about being along the water – whether that’s hooking a fish, walking dogs and babies, taking photographs, sketching scenery or simply just sitting on a park bench and relaxing – all of which I’ve seen locals do at the city hot spot.
The lakes came up as a topic of conversation at Monday night’s City Council work session. Some city officials have a dream, of sorts, for the scenic lakes. In fact, a portion of the fiscal year-end fund balance - $21,000 – has been set aside for a lakes development program. For now, the city is investing in some enhanced lighting.
But it is possible that someday the lakes could be not only a place for locals to enjoy, but also a destination spot, of sorts.
Additions of a zipline course, paddle boats and even a lake boardwalk are being considered.
“We’ve talked for a while about enhancing the lakes for recreational purposes,” said City Manager Kim Haws.
Part of that initiative is extending the trail around the entire parameter of the lakes, as well as adding some activities. 
“Whether that’s paddle boats or a ropes course, staff is looking at different options to using the lakes more effectively,” Haws said. “At one time, there were paddle boats out there and we’re looking at that again, as well as different kinds of things to do.”
I remember the paddle boats. I also remember the swinging bridge that connected the Deegan Lake picnic area to the wooded area across the lake. My little boy and I used to take bag lunches to “the wilderness,” enjoy a picnic together then venture back across the bridge. And as my own kids used to, now my grandkids like to frequent the playground; climbing on the turtle and swinging on the lakeside swings. Our family has also done plenty of fishing at the lakes and have our own little favorite spot, as do lots of area fishermen. Like many of you, I’ve loaded up my dog and ventured to the trails for a peaceful walk. But usually, my visit to the lakes is by bicycle. From the trail, I thoroughly enjoy the views – of scenic nature, wildlife and community folks.
I love to see and hear the geese coming in for a landing on the water and I always look for the resident blue herons. Typically, they are the far end of Hinkle Lake, but I’ve seen them in various spots. One day, I was riding, approaching the area between the lakes and a deer came from Hinkle Lake Road and ran in front of me. She got stuck inside the fence around the soccer field and continually butted her head against the fencing. There were others along the trail and we thought she was scared. I rode around behind the fencing, hoping to scare her in the other direction and one of those herons came swooping down. It was like a scene out of “Animal Kingdom,” right in our Bridgeport backyard. The doe finally turned around, made it back across the road safety and headed up into the woods.
The scenes along the trails are many, including folks on horseback, little kids playing soccer and families cheering. Occasionally, I talk to a fisherman or two, asking what kind of luck they’re having and what they're using for bait. I’ve seen families, high school seniors and wedding parties utilizing the pretty area for photo backdrops. One day, there was even a little couch on the trail and it was filled with the cutest little kids.
As of this week, we are once again seeing tennis played on the far side of Deegan Lake as the new tennis courts have been completed. The project took longer than initially expected; one which included resurfacing and postponement of construction due to bad weather.
Bridgeport Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Joe Shuttleworth said he would like to see a new shelter installed in that area and playground facilities updated, as well as older blacktopped areas replaced with grass.
I love the lakes during all seasons: In the height of summer when wildflowers are in full bloom, in the fall when they are dressed in bright autumn hues and leaves begin to fall; in the winter when icycles accent trees and all is silent and in the spring when boats begin dotting the lakes and the baby geese first appear. I love watching them grow up as the months go by.
What about you?  What do you love about Hinkle and Deegan Lakes? What is your vision for the area - or do you like it just the way it is?
Julie Perine can be reached at 304-848-7200, ext. 2, or
More "It's Happening" HERE
Editor's Note: Photo of Deegan Lake under the rainbow is by Kevin Kellar. I took the others - and so many more - while visiting and admiring the lakes.

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