Copperas Cove city council briefed on preparations for 2024 solar eclipse
By LYNETTE SOWELL
The date of the total solar eclipse, April 8, 2024, is a little more than one year away, and the city of Copperas Cove is continuing to make preparations for the tens of thousands of visitors who will be converging on Central Texas.
At Tuesday night’s Copperas Cove city council meeting, Copperas Cove’s Special Events Coordinator, Ashley Wilson, briefed the council on some of what to expect.
Part of the plan is to use the city’s public spaces, its parks, for different purposes.
“We do recommend that Ogletree Gap be used for RV and tent camping, and Rhode Park for tent camping only. The following parks we recommend to be used for the events, South Park, High Chaparral, Kate Street and Highland Park,” Wilson said.
She added that the Spring Festival, which is usually a one-day event, would be expanded to a three-day weekend. This would be Saturday, April 6 through the date of the solar eclipse, April 8.
Wilson said that they’ve recommended that Copperas Cove’s downtown area be set up for a vendor market, put on by the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce, in a similar format to the annual Krist Kindl Markt.
She said that she and Jeff Stoddard, the city’s Parks & Recreation director, will be working on an application for organizations to use, and that application will be brought back to the council in the future.
One thing she said the committee plans to have a timeline for the entire weekend, so that everyone coming to Copperas Cove can look at the timeline and see when and where the events will kick off, such as any special movie showings or guest speakers.
“It will be something so that everybody knows every day something's going on and they know where it's at,” Wilson said.
She also told the council that she received word on Tuesday that CCISD will be offering their stadium for the day for eclipse viewing.
Currently, there is no RV camping or tent camping at the city parks, so the council would need to vote on a formal exception for that during that time period.
The question was asked if the city would accept reservations for camping and/or RV spots, but that is something to be determined.
Stoddard said he would recommend that reservations be made prior to the weekend, and if there is space available coming up on the date.
Stoddard added that the open property directly along 190 in front of Ogletree Gap is private property, and they are in the process of making contact with the owners. Likewise, the EDC has been in touch with Endeavor Real Estate, who owns much of the open space in the vicinity of the Five Hills Shopping Center.
“From all accounts that I can get from talking to other communities, is that any open field is going to be filled with people. So us as a city, we're just concerned about the city facilities but we're trying to educate these other land owners,” said Stoddard. “Also, Christian House of Prayer has a huge parking lot, so they're going to fill the space. Also, right across, there's an open field there, and that is also going to be full of people.”
Stoddard said they are trying to get the word out that if you have open space, and if you don't plan for it, it's just going to be overrun with people. Currently, their department is focusing on city facilities and property, and how it is managed and what the council’s direction is with city facilities.
The Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce has a webpage for the 2024 Solar Eclipse, at https://copperascove.com/2024-solar-eclipse/, which enables visitors to access links for accommodations, dining, and more. This webpage will be added to as more information becomes available and plans are made.