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County wins grant for parkland


Clark (click for larger version)
October 08, 2013 | 11:54 AM
ELKHORN — The county won a nearly $1 million DNR grant to purchase parkland in the town of Lyons.

On Sept. 10, Walworth County Director of Central Services Kevin Brunner received a letter from the DNR informing him that the county had won the grant.

Brunner said the state had $6 million available in grants this year, and Walworth County’s application was ranked the highest in the state.

For more than a year, the county has been negotiating with Duane Clark, who owns 196 acres of land at the intersection of Sheridan Springs and Short roads. The land is about 70 percent farmland, and the rest of it is woodlands. The total cost of the property is $1.91 million.

The matching grant to purchase the park is for $955,100. County taxpayers will pay for the remainder of the purchase.

County Administrator David Bretl included funds for purchasing the parkland in the county’s 2014 budget.

However, the county board won’t approve the budget until November. The majority of supervisors have supported purchasing the park in the past, and four supervisors have been opposed to it.

The land includes nearly 9,200 feet of frontage on the White River. Clark’s property features a meandering river, a spring-fed quarry and established trails.

Only portions of Clark’s property are visible from Sheridan Springs Road. The rolling farmland, an old cedar barn and silo augment the country scenery that many motorists are accustomed to seeing when traveling on Walworth County roadways.

Brunner said before the park opens to the public he would like to see a canoe/kayak launch, bathrooms and a parking area built on the property. The DNR provided the county with a second grant, for $43,172, to complete those projects. Brunner said county employees will perform the work.

Before the county can accept the DNR grant the board will need to approve two ordinances. One ordinance would allow hunting and trapping at the new park, and second ordinance would simply be to accept the grant.

A requirement of the DNR grant was to allow hunting, fishing and trapping at the park. Both of these ordinances will be on the county board’s Oct. 8 agenda. However, the county board meets after the Regional News’ deadline.

Brunner said that hunters and trappers would be required to follow state laws at the park.

However, target practicing and hunting dogs would be prohibited.

Hunters also can’t shoot within 100 yards of any occupied dwelling.

Brunner said he recently met with a DNR official and a park representative from Waukesha County. In Waukesha County hunting is allowed in at least one county park, and Waukesha hasn’t reported having any problems.

Brunner also said the plan is to call the park the “White River Park.” During Bretl’s budget presentation he referred to the park as “Clark Park,” but there is no intention of having that as the park’s official title.


Tags: County Report

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