Robinson Lake group urges mayor to preserve park
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent September 4, 2012 9:48PM
Updated: September 4, 2012 11:01PM
HOBART — Mayor Brian Snedecor Tuesday promised the Friends of Robinson Lake he would reopen discussions with a real estate agent representing the former St. Sava property, despite his continued reservations over the city taking on more public land.
“I won’t close the door on it, but you need to understand that it scares me for the city to take on more land. Resources are tight and I don’t want the city to be property managers,” Snedecor told about two dozen members of the group committed to preserving the natural beauty of the park and protecting it as a public park.
Snedecor, who was invited to attend the regular meeting of the group, asked Friends member Sandy O’Brien to join in the discussions to see what ideas the real estate agent has for the acreage adjacent to Robinson Lake Park in terms of working with the city.
O’Brien said the agent told her he’d be willing to parcel off portions of the property.
After the meeting, Snedecor said he was not at liberty to say if someone was interested in the parcel of land that one group of developers had wanted to turn into an RV park. He also said it was too early to say if the city would look at purchasing all of the property or just a parcel of it.
O’Brien had told the mayor the property could be purchased with grant funds, at no cost to the city. She asked the mayor to back the plan.
Snedecor said O’Brien’s plan was a good one. However, the financially-strapped city would then be responsible for any liability issues and moderate maintenance of the property. In addition, the property would no longer be taxed and the already overburdened parks department would have to take on more work.
Another issue, Snedecor said, is the city is in negotiations to obtain Brickie Bowl in a swap with the School City of Hobart, adding more burden to the parks department. He said the former high school football field not only would continue to serve as an effective drainage area, it also would provide an outdoor track for seniors at the adjacent Maria Reiner Center.
But Friends member Bob Allen said the city’s liability might be reduced by posting “no swimming” signs. He also said Robinson Lake also could be used to prevent flooding and suggested the city give some of its other 20-plus parks back to the neighborhoods.
Dan McDowell said he found it irksome that developers want to use public property for their own resources, referring to a request that an access road be built there.
Snedecor said the city has made no commitment concerning a possible access road.
O’Brien said the grant would only pay the assessed value of the property, which she believes is about $325,000. She said the latest asking price is $600,000.
O’Brien said purchasing the St. Sava property to expand the park would be a way for people living in the area to maintain a good quality of life and could result in a higher tax base as people there may want to invest in their homes, causing their values to rise.