A local Facebook user recently posted a picture of herself sitting on a bench before a small, serene, peaceful lake, enjoying a recent Saturday under calm skies and pleasant temperatures.
Several times over the next few days she said people asked her, “Where was that taken?” They were surprised to learn it was in their own backyard, at Harmony Lake, located at Liberty Park in Hillsboro.
Harmony Lake might be Hillsboro’s best-kept secret, or certainly a hidden gem. Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Todd Wilkin said that a couple of years ago, mayor Drew Hastings participated in a health fair at the Hobart company, and “95 percent of the employees had no idea Harmony Lake existed.”
The lake is located at the end of Diamond Drive, the road that runs past the YMCA. Keep going north on Diamond, and visitors will come to a gate that’s open from dawn to dusk seven days a week year-round.
After passing through the gate, the newly-paved road extends all the way back to the city reservoir. On the right is a large, mowed park available for picnicking, Frisbee tossing, pickup soccer games, or even a little driving range-style golf practice.
“Schools used to bring their biology classes here to study the trees” and other vegetation, recalls Wilkin, who remembers his Lynchburg-Clay class enjoying such a field trip when he was a student.
In the midst of the greenery is Harmony Lake, which is available for public fishing.
City officials have been trying to create more public awareness of the lake. The city obtained an Ohio Department of Natural Resources grant to stock the lake with trout, bluegill and sunfish, and a youth fishing derby was held in the spring for youngsters 15 and under. Thanks to sponsors including Walmart, Rick’s Appliances, Pepsi and the ODNR, free fishing poles, bobbers, hooks, weights, bait and other items were provided.
Next year, the city hopes to obtain a grant to build a pavilion at the lake, similar to the one near Liberty Park’s amphitheater. The lake also ties into the city’s three-mile trail system, and a disk golf course is in the planning stages.
Wilkin hopes to bring back the tradition of schools making field trips to the lake, which was originally intended to be a second city reservoir back the late 1980s or early ‘90s, said Wilkin.
The lake and park area are next to a city-owned field that is leased for farming and currently is tall with corn. The fields on each side of Diamond Drive prior to entering the gate where Harmony Lake is located are owned by Weastec, and currently are planted in soybeans.
Wilkin encourages local families to visit Harmony Lake and take part in the fishing, relaxation and outdoor activities that can be enjoyed there.
“It’s here for everyone,” he said. “People should take advantage of it.”
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.