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The years-long race to bring the first Caribbean beach to North Texas — the much-coveted Crystal Lagoon — has created a tidal wave of developer hype and suburban political intrigue.
In Rowlett, the crystalline blue oasis promised to residents remains, at best, on-again-maybe after the city’s private partner decided the plan wasn’t feasible. That left Prosper’s Windsong Ranch community, on U.S. Highway 380 just west of the Dallas North Tollway, to cross the finish line first when it opened its own Crystal Lagoon late last month.
Despite all the attention, including my own reporting on Rowlett’s persistent quest for one of these mega-water features, I could never figure out why so many people were so darn fascinated with the idea of a Crystal Lagoon. What better time to try to find that answer than Fourth of July week? So I spent Tuesday afternoon as a Windsong beach bum, albeit with digital recorder in hand.
You won’t confuse the Crystal Lagoon with Aruba, but the sparkly azure water and the white sand between my toes were a mind-altering change of scene from the miles of freshly scraped prairie along nearby Highway 380.
Stir in a little imagination and it’s a seaside vacation alongside friends and neighbors — with home a short walk away.
Thirteen-year-old Sachiko Steinhilper sits on one of the docks at the Crystal Lagoon at Windsong Ranch in Prosper on Tuesday.
The gee-whiz facts behind the project are impressive: One-quarter-mile long, 10 million gallons of water, a maximum depth of 10 feet and a silky white floor that reflects the blue sky. Surrounding the lagoon is a beach made up of 2,600 tons of white sand trucked in from Arkansas.
But before you start calculating the driving distance to Prosper, be aware that this Crystal Lagoon is open only to Windsong Ranch residents, who pay about $120 a month in HOA dues, and their guests. Lucky for me, one of the handful of people I know in Prosper is real estate agent Marie Bailey, whose family lives right across the street from Windsong’s newest amenity. I wrote about her recently as the woman shepherding the “Move to Texas from California” migration, and this week I asked her to be my guide into the Crystal Lagoon hoopla.
Everyone I met Tuesday was almost giddy over the Crystal Lagoon. Maybe that’s because the beach makes you feel like an uninhibited kid again. It reminds you of a favorite vacation, a honeymoon or a long-planned retirement trip.
And even though North Texas is hardly the natural habitat for a Caribbean beach, as Bailey put it, “somehow it manages to feel very authentic.”
Many of the residents I met are part of the slew of out-of-state transplants who have relocated to North Texas. Others moved here from nearby Frisco and McKinney to get out of what they described as the congestion and rat race in those boomtowns. Some moved from virtually across the street from Windsong.