Hobart officials cool to idea to purchase former St. Sava property
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent September 22, 2012 4:40PM
Updated: October 24, 2012 6:36AM
HOBART — Members of the Friends of Robinson Lake received little encouragement last week as they appealed to both the Board of Public Works and City Council to make an offer to purchase the former St. Sava property for conservation purposes.
The not-for-profit group sent letters to every member of the City Council and Board of Works urging the city to apply for a Lake Michigan Coastal Grant that could help pay for the purchase of the property to the north of Robinson Lake Park, now called Bear Country, pointing out there is a Sept. 28 deadline for a pre-proposal for the grant.
The Friends stated in the letter the purchase offer could be contingent upon an appraisal showing the property is worth the offer, grant funds being available and the building on the property being dealt with by a party other than the city.
“We need to be careful of the way the St. Sava land is developed. I think the highest and best use is not to tear out trees and pave it over,” said Friends member Bob Allen.
Loy Roberson, chairman of the Friends of Robinson Lake, told the Board of Works the group primarily wanted to let the board know members are against any road going through Robinson Lake Park to access the property to the north.
“In terms of traffic, safety and the environment, it is totally unacceptable to us,” Roberson said.
Mayor Brian Snedecor said he is not comfortable with pursuing a grant to purchase the full amount of land on the Bear Country site.
“Whatever we can do to connect the properties with a natural walking trail is a good thing. But to take on 40 to 50 acres and tear down a building is not something I want to pursue,” Snedecor said.
Snedecor also said he did not want to add to another burden to the already over-taxed Parks Department. Allen said he’s had informal conversations with a Lake County Parks and Recreation official, who indicated that department might have some interest in taking over Robinson Lake Park and the adjacent property.
However, Robert Nickovich, superintendent of Lake County Parks and Recreation, said Friday he is not actively considering the properties.
“Given the financial constraints all (Lake County government) units are under, I don’t see us playing any kind of role with Robinson Lake at this time. The resources just aren’t there at present,” Nickovich said.
He said even if grants paid for the property, there is no money available for operational purposes.
He also noted there is a liability issue with Robinson Lake.
“I’ve seen flotation devices in the middle of the lake there,” he said.
Hobart resident Larry Brown, who was involved in the Bear Country RV development proposed for the former St. Sava land, said the current asking price for the land is $795,000.