July 08, 2014 | 10:36 AMBLOOMFIELD — Some say they would rather see the money spent elsewhere, but Village President Ken Monroe said it’s a “vocal minority” who are against the board’s McKay Park improvement plan.
He believes most village residents are in favor of the estimated $194,000 project, which calls for building a pavilion, gravel trails and a split-rail fence on the 13-acre Lake Geneva Highway property near Star Center Elementary School.
But Bill Gaede, president of the Pell Lake Sportsmen’s Club, would prefer to see improvements made somewhere else.
“They should put pavilions down by the lake,” he said, referring to Pell Lake.
On June 21, Gaede reported the park is “underwater.” He also echoed the sentiments expressed in comments that were posted online to a June 5 Regional News article about the park proposal.
Some of these comments — and Gaede himself — referred to McKay Park as “Monroe’s backyard.”
Monroe lives across from the park.
“It’s not even in my front yard, (but) that’s really neither here nor there. My feeling was, we had been donated 13 acres, and the deed says it has to be used as a park.”
In 1995, Gene Snow donated the land to the former town of Bloomfield.
It is the only official park in the village, said Monroe, and the proposal on the table would help facilitate specific types of gatherings that similar, nearby properties wouldn’t, such as Star Center Elementary School.
“With Star Center, the school isn’t going to allow you to have a family reunion there, or a company picnic.”
But what about the land near the Pell Lake beach at the corner of North Lakeshore and Orchid drives?
Monroe said he’s not sure it’s large enough for a pavilion, but the recently formed Pell Lake Lake Association likely will address that — after it has created bylaws, secured a nonprofit status and completed other requirements.
One common misconception about the McKay plan is that it’s a done deal. Monroe said funding needs to be in place first, and that’s not secured yet.
Recently, the village board applied for the stewardship grant from the state Department of Natural Resources. If approved, the DNR may give the village up to $97,000 toward the project — 50 percent of its estimated cost.
“If we don’t get the grant, we’ll just have to go in a different direction,” said Monroe.
Previously, he has said the village would use impact fees to make up the difference on the project cost.
During three separate interviews with Monroe in late June, a question came up of whether the village shared ownership of McKay Park with the town of Bloomfield.
There is an intergovernmental agreement between the town and village which states, “All town municipal buildings and lands shall be of joint ownership between the town and village.”
However, on July 2, Town Chairman Dan Schoonover said he asked Anthony Coletti, the town’s attorney, what that meant.
Schoonover said that statement refers to the lands on which the buildings sit — not the park.
But on July 2, Monroe said he will ask the town to help with the cost of the proposed McKay project.
When asked how they would react to that request, Schoonover said his board would have to discuss it. “Certainly, we wouldn’t turn it down right off the bat.”
The town of Bloomfield has no park land, said Schoonover.
“If the project goes through, and there was somewhere like a pavilion, where you can sign up to use it, I could see town residents using it.”
Monroe said people have called him, claiming that more than $400,000 is a lot of money to spend on the park. He said people might think the village board is still pursuing the 2013 plan, which was estimated to cost $445,000.
That’s not the cost of what the village is trying to do now. Last year’s plan also included more improvements. In addition to a pavilion, it called for a children’s play area, picnic benches and a finished parking lot.
Monroe said they had scaled back the McKay plan this year because the DNR turned them down for the stewardship grant in 2013.
Another common misconception is, if the funding is in place, everything will be spent right away. It could take one to three years, said Monroe.
He added that the village board is pursuing what people wanted.
“When we did a study, years back, when it was all the town of Bloomfield … we asked people want they wanted, what they were looking for in the town. A good percentage of them said there is no park, no open space.”
He said Lake Geneva and Genoa City have multiple parks, but “we don’t even have one, and we’re bigger than Genoa City.”