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Resident gives evaluation of Four Seasons Park

May 27, 2014 | 02:14 PM
No one hired Katherine Anderson to tour Four Seasons Nature Preserve and give a report on the condition of the plantings there.

But the Lake Geneva Board of Park Commissioners gladly heard her report and hope to hear more from residents about the quality of their parks.

According to Anderson, invasive species makes up most of the nature preserved at Four Seasons.

“It’s pretty degraded, but I felt with a lot of hard work and careful handling, it can be brought back to life,” Anderson told the board on May 22.

The 65-acre Four Seasons Park is on County Road H, just south of Highway 120. Although a city park owned by Lake Geneva, the park is outside city limits.

Four Seasons is described as a “passive park,” with walking and biking trails and a pond.

Anderson said she was contacted by Lynn Hassler, a park board commissioner, who told her that the city was at a loss over what to do with Four Seasons Park.

Anderson has a degree in environmental studies from Ashford University, Iowa.

From her observations, invasive species have grabbed a pretty strong toehold on the park grounds, Anderson said.

In fact, just removing the invasives wouldn’t be enough to restore the park to its native state.

Buckthorn, garlic mustard, Burdock and reed canary grass have overrun most of the park, she said. In the area around the pond, cattails have also moved in.

She said there aren’t enough native plants in the park to repopulate it. Seeding would have to be done, and that won’t be cheap, she said.

“It could be pretty costly,” she told the park board, saying that seed alone could cost as much as $40,000.

Removing the invasives from the park and preparing the grounds for reseeding would cost another $10,000.

She said the entire project could take decades to complete.

Doug Skates, park board chairman, urged the other commissioners to go out and talk to residents about the city parks and ask their opinions about what could be done to improve them.

In other park board business

• Clara Jacobs, representing the Committee for the Beautification of Lake Geneva, asked permission to sell bricks to pay for about a third of the costs of building a new performance pavilion at Flat Iron Park.

The committee is donating $100,000, and a private donor is putting up another $100,000.

That leaves another $100,000 to be raised. The beautification committee is convinced that it can raise that amount selling paving bricks that will cover the approach to the pavilion.

• Residents will have a chance to weigh in what they think of Lake Geneva’s parks and recreation areas.

Once about every five years Wisconsin municipalities must complete a Park and Open Space Plan to stay eligible for parks and open spaces grants through the state.

Mary Robb, a planner with Vandewalle & Associates, Madison, will do the plan this year. Vandewalle also did the city plan in 2007-08.

Survey cards with a special identification number will be mailed out later this summer that will allow residents to go to the website Survey Monkey and complete a survey on the city’s parks.

The results will determine whether the preliminary process will include focus groups, an open house or workshop to get public comments and suggestions regarding city parks,

Among the concerns mentioned by park board members is to study whether the city can establish bike pathways through out the city.

Lake Geneva does have bike paths, but most are on the city’s east side.

The last study, completed and approved by the city council in 2008, showed that Lake Geneva has a good number of parks, bike paths and recreation areas.

The city has substantial facilities for athletics such as baseball, soccer, tennis, bike riding and playgrounds and picnic areas.

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