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July 08, 2014 | 02:39 PM
LYONS — For the right real estate agent, it could have been a promising listing. The description could have read: “Your home overlooking meandering White River frontage, just a few miles from downtown Lake Geneva and nestled in quiet country atmosphere.”

But homes won’t be built at the intersection of Sheridan Springs and Short roads. Instead, the land will be a county park, which will feature hiking and biking trails and public access to the White River.

The former owner of the land, Duane Clark, said he might have had a hefty payday had he sold his land to a developer.

However, he wanted to see his former homestead become a public park.

“It’s something I wanted to do,” Clark said. “I had to fight with myself because of developers ... I could have had a nice mansion up in the hills, but developers are not the way for that farm. It’s too damn beautiful.”

Clark’s former property, 196 acres of woods and farmland, was purchased by the county for $1.91 million.

In order to purchase the park, the county secured a nearly $1 million grant from the DNR’s stewardship program.

At 6 p.m. on July 10, the county will host a ceremony at the new White River Park.

“We wanted to dedicate it as soon as possible because there was a significant public investment, and we wanted the public to enjoy it as soon as possible,” said Kevin Brunner the county’s director of central services.

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Brunner said the park will be immediately open for access to the trails and the White River.

“We have a lot of hard work ahead of us,” Brunner said. “But it’s a day to celebrate the fact that we were able to acquire the land and develop it to this point, and now it is going to be preserved for future generations.”

Since the county closed on the parkland, it has installed a larger parking lot, a restroom facility and has worked on maintaining the trails. Brunner said the county is also going to install benches, picnic tables and canoe/kayack racks in the future.

The property also features an old barn and a home. Brunner said the county recently completed a study on the barn’s structure.

The study did show a number of structural issues with the barn, and the study provided cost estimates on how to repair those issues. The study looked at the barn’s roof, siding, foundation and other aspects of the building. To read the study visit http://www.scribd.com/doc/233075836/White-River-County-Park-Barn-Study.

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As part of the DNR grant, the county will also allow hunting, trapping and fishing on the property.

“It will be open for hunting, fishing and trapping by permit only, and we are starting to get interest in that,” Brunner said. “The key is to contact us and we will send permit forms out to people either electronically or by mail. They can stop and get a permit form.”

Brunner said any applicant would need to have permits from the DNR before receiving one from the county. Brunner said someone interested in obtaining a permit should call (262) 741-3114.

“We’ve had a number of inquires, we haven’t issued any permits yet, but a lot of people are interested,” Brunner said. He said he expects to see that interest grow during deer hunting season in fall.


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