Plans for a new park in Huntertown were unveiled Monday, but the first order of business is to legally declare the property a town park.
Dan Holmes, president of Friends of the Huntertown Park Inc., a not-for-profit board that oversees park operations, told Huntertown Council members that in order for the park board to move forward with its plans, the town has to make the first move.
Holmes said it was hard to solicit donations because they were leery of who actually owned the property and whether or not it would remain a park.
The park property consists of more than 27 acres on Woods Road, just off Old State Road 3.
It’s a deal killer, said park board member Bob O’Neal. It’s hard to get corporations to donate when they know the land is in jeopardy.
Holmes said much of the suspicion stemmed from a council proposal two years ago to build a wastewater treatment plant on a 4-acre section within the boundaries of the park.
Council members eventually changed their minds and are now hoping to build the plant on Hathaway Road.
The proposed $11.2 million treatment plant proposal was denied by the Department of Environmental Management in October, but Huntertown has appealed that decision.
Council members agreed to deed the property over to the park board, with the stipulation that if the park board dissolves or the park fails, the property will automatically revert back to the town. Attorneys will draw up the agreement for the council’s next meeting.
Plans for the park include a playground, four picnic areas, walking and bicycling paths, amphitheater, pavilion and wooded pathways.
That’s a lot and a big challenge, Holmes said, and that’s just phase one.
The board has already raised $100,000 in donations, Holmes said. The $91,000 left after expenses won’t be enough to get this done. It takes $181,000 just to build a playground.
The park board is launching a capital campaign to raise an additional $100,000.
Holmes asked the town to match the donations, dollar for dollar.
Councilman Gary Grant said he was in favor of using money from a recent land sale on Johnson Road.
Other council members said they would have to evaluate the town’s finances before making such a commitment.
The park board will have two public meetings to gather ideas and hear concerns before finalizing plans, Holmes said.
Among other objectives the parks group hopes to glean from the community is a name for the new park.
Holmes hopes to have plans in place by spring.
It has to start this year or it will be a bust, Holmes said.