Development trust keeps Lake Cunningham in demand

Omaha's Lake Cunningham has received upgrades, just in time for the summer season.
Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 4:41 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Lake Cunningham — they call it “The C” — is not your typical city park: It is run by a development trust.

The trust took over maintenance and operations of the park a few years ago. It has some big-name donors who have poured big bucks into making the park better and cleaner.

From kayaking to camping to fishing, Lake Cunningham in northwest Omaha has a bit of everything for people who like the outdoors. In the days after Memorial Day weekend, you might think the park would be desolate or sleepy. Not so — it was bustling.

Executive Director Brook Bench gave 6 News a tour, on a golf cart, of just some of the 1,500 acres. Some of the attractions: new bridges over the lake, water stocked with bass, bluegill, and catfish for anybody who likes to fish. If boating is your thing, there are 48 slips. There are also 42 new campsites to go along with 42 already there.

“To be able to take a park that was built in early 1970s, go through a complete rehab, update and change everything to make it beautiful, it’s been really exciting,” Bench said.

One look at the sign at the park and you can see some famous Omaha names who donated to this greenspace and lake. From the Walter Scott Foundation to John and Elizabeth Lauritzen Foundation to the Peter Kiewit Foundation just to name a few.

“We have over forty major donors that have put $25 million into this facility which has been unbelievable, the philanthropic community that we have in Omaha,” noted Bench.

Six miles of trails that wind around the park for walkers, joggers, and bikers are refurbished and have a new feel. The shelters for picnicking are new with clean tables and grills.

On the day we were there, volunteers were cleaning up debris along the lake and putting it into trash bags.

Jim Braun of Omaha has been coming here for 20years.

“The improvements to the campgrounds, concrete pads, concrete roads, adding forty-two new sites, those are huge improvements. A new reservations policy and rules that seem to be working well for maintaining a quality campground,” Braun said.

Word is spreading fast about the park’s improvements: Brook Bench tells 6 News that every campsite at Lake Cunningham is now sold out for the duration of the upcoming College World Series in Omaha.