- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 26, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A Nebraska Natural Resources District is opening Omaha’s newest park and lake after spending nine years developing the $44 million project.

The Papio-Missouri River district will open Flanagan Lake to the public on Wednesday, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

The area includes 475 acres (192 hectares) of parkland, recreational trails and a flood-control reservoir. The lake will reduce the flood plain and likely eliminate or reduce flood insurance rates for area homeowners over time, according to district officials.

“We’re excited to finally get it open,” said Jennifer Stauss Story, the district’s spokeswoman.

The locally governing district, which sustains the area’s natural resources, broke ground on the project almost three years ago. It will turn the park and lake over to the city of Omaha to operate as part of a 2012 agreement.

Stauss Story cautioned residents to refrain from using the lake until Wednesday.

“It is still an active construction site, so we do not want people to be utilizing it yet,” she said.

The grand opening this week will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a contest with prizes.

The Nebraska Game and Parks department has stocked the lake with largemouth bass, bluegill, red ear sunfish, c and northern pike for fishing. Daryl Bauer, the agency’s fisheries outreach program manager, said the fish are still need time to grow and reproduce. He suggested that fishing enthusiasts wait three to five years to take advantage of Flanagan Lake.

The city named the recreation area after the Rev. Edward Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town, a former home that cared for boys in need. The organization has since expanded nationally and supports all children and families.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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