HIGHLAND VILLAGE — When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. That’s what the City of Highland Village did when they turned seized property filled with criminal activity -- obscenity, fraud, income tax evasion, and racketeering -- into a park!
State and local officials made Lakeside Community Park official at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday.
“When you have a Homeland Security agent walk into your office one day unannounced, and he throws to ya, ‘here, here’s the front door keys, it’s yours.’ That was a cool thing,” City Manager Michael Leavitt laughed.
But it was a long time coming. In 2003, Highland Village PD helped the IRS serve federal warrants at 707 Highland Village Road.
“It first started with the IRS and the Secret Service, and the federal law enforcement agencies. Then we had Hurricane Katrina that came along,” Leavitt added.
The 5th District Court in New Orleans was destroyed while the case was in appeals. That’s when Congressman Michael Burgess stepped in.
“This is the office file for this property,” he said, holding a thick stack of papers. “Department of Homeland Security, federal attorneys, it really required a lot of concentration by a lot of people."
“We are very grateful to Congressman Burgess for all he did for us to be able to get this property,” Mayor Charlotte Wilcox said. "He was a Highland Village resident. He helped us through this process. We’re looking forward to using the pavilion for birthday parties, weddings, overlooking the lake. It’ll be beautiful, wouldn’t it? Residents, families are just coming out enjoying.”
“I want to acknowledge Chief and your department, members of the fire department," Burgess said. "Now they’ve got a wonderful community center, a place to gather, a place to bring their families, a place to play frisbee, a place to walk their dog by the lake."