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Conservation pact on hold



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December 29, 2010 | 09:03 AM
Williams Bay — The Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy newsletter carries the motto: "Dedicated July 1990 to the children of tomorrow."

Harold J. Friestad, chairman of the conservancy's board of directors, believes he has the answer to preserving the 230-acre nature preserve for future generations, make it part of a conservation easement.

After more than a year of preparation and negotiating with the Geneva Lake Conservancy, Friestad presented his proposal to the Williams Bay trustees, first at the Village Board's Parks and Lakefront Committee Dec. 15, and then at the full board on Dec. 20.

However, some trustees concerned that an easement would dilute the community's control over the conservancy.

This is our property, said Village Board President Don Weyhrauch.

A decision on the conservancy proposal will have to wait for a joint meeting with the Parks and Lakefront Committee, Village Attorney Mark Schroeder, a representative from the Geneva Lake Conservancy and members of the Kishwauketoe board.

Joe McHugh, conservancy director, said putting Kishwauketoe into a conservation agreement would prevent future Village Boards from selling land piecemeal 50 years from now.

The conservancy would also stand with the village if someone tried to legally challenge the existence of the nature preserve, McHugh said.

"We retain ownership," Friestad told the trustees. "It would be another level of protection against future development."

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The Geneva Lake Conservancy, headquartered in Fontana, is a nonprofit organization supported entirely by contributions.

The conservancy's stated mission is to protect the environmental character of Geneva Lake, Lake Como and Delavan Lake. Among those properties in conservation easements held or co-held by the conservancy are the Linn Town Nature Park and the estate and grounds of the Black Point summer home.

McHugh said there are a variety of easement agreements. In some, the conservancy has to be consulted before a tree is taken down.

In the case of the Kishwauketoe conservancy, if the Kishwauketoe board wants to build a new observation tower, "we would sit down with the (Geneva Lake) Conservancy board and talk with them about it," Friestad said.

McHugh said there are provisions that would allow the owners to build structures that would help the owners meet their mission.

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While the Williams Bay Village Board is to be commended for creating Kishwauketoe, and there is no support for selling even a part of it for development, there are no assurances that future Village Boards will be so wise, said Trustee Dick Chroust, who chairs the Parks and Lakefront Committe.

Chroust said he grew up in Warrenville, Ill. There, he said, land was donated to the village for a library. A few years ago, he visited his old hometown to find apartment buildings on that property.

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