artists rendering of possible manmade islands in lake springfield

Possibilities for Lake Springfield include expansion, trail connection, improved water access

Following months of economic impact analysis, hydrological and water-quality assessments and a robust community visioning and outreach process, the City of Springfield and City Utilities in October 2023 presented some innovative possibilities for a reimagined Lake Springfield area at a community open house at the Springfield Art Museum and to City Council at a workshop streamed live to the community.

Lake Springfield was identified as a redevelopment opportunity area during the City’s Forward SGF comprehensive planning process. With the plan, which was funded through an $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), a donation from the Hatch Foundation and contributions from the City and CU, the entities hope to spark the interest of private developers.

Dredging sediment to build wetland ecology ‘islands’ connected by boardwalks

Steve Prange with project manager Crawford, Murphy and Tilly, explained the components of the plan at the October open house.

The depth of the lake (less than four feet deep in certain areas due to sediments deposits) coupled with few access points to the water, especially those with disabilities, were identified as impediments to recreation at Lake Springfield during the public engagement phase. Prange said employing a specialized dredging technique to scrape the accumulated sediment into wetland ecology ‘islands’ connected by boardwalks would address these impediments while providing unique recreation opportunities.

“The eco island concept would be a huge water quality benefit for the whole area,” Prange said. “It would be an awesome enhancement while also maintaining the integrity of the lake.”

artist's rendering of kayakers on lake springfield

Connection to Chadwick Flyer Trail

A pedestrian bridge connecting the park to Ozark Greenways’ new Chadwick Flyer Trail is another component of the plan. The 12-mile Chadwick Flyer Trail is estimated to be complete in the next five to 10 years and will connect Springfield and Ozark.

Possibilities for former power plant site

The former power plant site, decommissioned in 2021, has a couple of potential uses, Prange said. The first is to use the site as an entertainment district with restaurants, retail/office space and housing with riverfront recreation opportunities. A second concept would reuse the site as a water adventure facility that includes restaurants and conference space.

The area southeast of the former power plant site could become a “glamping” zone with cabins, campsites, RV parking and a mountain bike/adventure park.

Bypassing the dam

Connecting the lake to the James River via a bypass could lengthen the James River Water Trail and create additional opportunities downriver, he said.

“This is more about embracing who we are in the Ozarks and attracting not only an amenity for our locals to enjoy but to attract other people to come to our community and spend some time, spend their money and really enjoy who we are and what we treasure,” Prange said.

Next steps

The Lake Springfield Plan will go before the CU board and City Council for adoption with implementation to follow later this year.

View the full presentation.

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