Brynn Grimley writes:
Monday night the board of county commissioners were set to approve the Newberry Hill Heritage Park master plan. I wrote about the plan back in April when the committee finished its work on the document. The committee (made up of anyone who wanted to be involved and have a say) met five times and created a plan for how it would like to see the park developed in the future. An appointed steering committee then reviewed the committee’s suggestions to make sure they were in line with the larger guiding principles established by the group.
Initially there was a lot of interest in the park — both during the county’s swap with the Department of Natural Resources to get the land and at the first public master plan meeting. But by the end, while a number of people stayed involved in the planning process, the overall public interest in the project seemed to have subsided.
One reason could be because once people realized the idea was to keep the uses of the park “passive” (i.e. walking, biking, horse trails, no ball fields, no motorized vehicles, etc.), they didn’t feel the need to voice concerns.
I didn’t attend Monday’s commissioner meeting, so I’m not sure what if any testimony will be given regarding the park plan. I’m assuming the plan will pass, but I’ve learned in this business it’s never safe to assume. So I’ll update this Tuesday after I come into work if anything changes.
While there isn’t much to update on the park planning front, I did learn that the county is close to acquiring the remaining 315 acres it needs to complete the park and make it 1,082 acres. The county acquired 247 acres in the north end of the park in 2004. It then got the 520 acres to the south from DNR in 2009, but still needed the land in the middle of those to parcels to complete its park.
The state said it’d gladly convey the land to the county, but asked the county to foot the bill of that process because it didn’t foresee having the financing needed to pay for its staff time to complete the work. The county set aside $15,000 to help pay for that process. It sounds like the county spent closer to $10,000, and the land conveyance has been approved by the county and state.
Now it’s slowly making its way through the process of getting the various signatures it needs to be final, according to county Parks and Recreation Director Jim Dunwiddie. Originally the county hoped to have the acquisition done by June, but as we head closer to July, it’s now sounding like it will be finalized closer to September.