Community considers Hobart Marsh proposal
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent December 6, 2012 10:22PM
Updated: January 8, 2013 6:24AM
HOBART — The Hobart Marsh Plan, which would encompass about 1,000 acres on the city’s west end and could include Robinson Lake Park as a hub, received a show of support from a number of residents and at least two councilmen during a public hearing Thursday.
“I think this is a great plan for the west end of town and for recreation as a whole. It will keep the property values up,” said Loy Roberson, president and chairman of the Friends of Robinson Lake. “I’d like to see it be one big park.”
Councilman P. Lino Maggio, D-3rd, echoed his sentiment.
“I think the marsh plan will be our ticket to get people to the west side. There will be so many ways to get out there. Our young people will be so lucky to have this plan,” Maggio said.
City planner A.J. Bytnar said the proposal calls for potential corridors for activity including biking and hiking trails, potential trail heads and markers and a potential connection between the marsh property and nearby residential areas.
“The focus is to develop spurs of passive, low-impact walking/hiking trails coming off the Oak-Savannah Trail and create loops,” he said.
Bytnar said Robinson Lake Park could act as a hub for the various properties involved, with its parking lot serving as a trail head for the Oak-Savannah Trail and the park itself.
“If the park is used in a more robust fashion, we would need to look at some improvements,” Bytnar said.
Bytnar said the purpose of the meeting was to get public input on the plan, which is a collaboration among the city, Hobart and Lake County Parks and Recreation departments, the Army Corps of Engineers and several other environmental and civic agencies. He said comments made during the hearing would be passed on to a consultant and the final plan would be voted on during the January plan commission meeting.
Other possibilities in the Hobart Marsh Plan are kayaking, restroom facilities and other amenities, scenarios for nonmotorized access to the land, site connectivity through trails, land management strategies and collaborations and educational and potential volunteer opportunities.
Resident Bob Crossk said the city is fortunate to have Robinson Lake Park, which is one of the city’s biggest parks.
“We need to leave something for our children. ... Robinson Lake Park is a great asset to the city. We need that park to remain as a city park,” he said.
Councilman John Brezik, D-5th, who also chairs the plan commission, provided a show of support for the marsh plan as well.
“It’s a wonderful start and it will be very beneficial to the city. It’s a use for land that is very difficult to find use for,” Brezik said of the wetland property.
Resident Larry Brown, who had hoped to develop the former St. Sava property adjacent to Robinson Lake, said he thinks the park property should be developed for recreation for every family in the city to use, however.
He said batting cages, concessions and miniature golf are some of the activities that could be put there, with revenue raised providing cash flow to the parks department.