Hobart mayor opposes St. Sava property purchase
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent December 10, 2012 9:28PM
Updated: January 12, 2013 6:16AM
HOBART — Mayor Brian Snedecor Monday told the park board he does not support a city purchase of the former St. Sava property, despite contradictory remarks made in public.
“It was brought to me that there were remarks made by one or two people in public that the mayor is supportive of the city pursuing the St. Sava property. That is not the case,” Snedecor said at the park board meeting. “I wanted to set the matter straight.”
The mayor, city council and Board of Public Works have been approached by Friends of Robinson Lake to make an offer on the former church property, tree-filled acreage that is located next to Robinson Lake Park on Liverpool Road. Friends members said there was grant money available that would help pay for the cost.
But Snedecor said he is a strong proponent of the city not being a property landlord, adding he does not want to add more responsibility onto the parks department. He also said he heard that it could cost between $70,000 and $100,000 to demolish the building on the property.
“When I looked at the big picture, I realized at this point it is not feasible for the city to pursue,” Snedecor said.
The mayor said he believes the city can add nature walks in its boundaries without taking the St. Sava property off the tax rolls.
The Friends, a nonprofit group dedicated to keeping Robinson Lake Park in its natural state, have said that the former church property’s location is at the center of the Hobart Marsh Plan and the plan would be diluted without the property.
Park board members agreed with the mayor, however.
“It was a nice diamond in the rough, but I always thought the price was a little absurd,” park board president John Hevel said.
Sandy O’Brien, a member of the Friends of Robinson Lake, said previously the list price for the property was $600,000.
In another land matter, Snedecor said the city council should vote within 30 to 60 days on a proposed land swap between the city and School City of Hobart in which the city would obtain the Brickie Bowl and a parking lot next to the Hobart Historical Society. The school system, in return, would obtain a parcel of land behind Fire Station No. 1 that is adjacent to Joann Martin Elementary School.
Mike Rogers, the school board’s representative on the park board, said Midwest Products bought the Dust Bowl behind Brickie Bowl, bringing that property onto the tax rolls.
Rogers said the school board hasn’t voted on the swap as yet.
“It’s all in the lawyer’s hands,” he said.
Snedecor said Brickie Bowl could come under the jurisdiction of either the park board or special events. He said it could be used for concerts, city events and as a walking track for members of the Maria Reiner Senior Center, which is located next to the Brickie Bowl.
Rogers said under the school city ownership, alcohol couldn’t be served, but it would be once the city takes over as owners.
The park board also voted to accept the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ offer to manage Robinson Lake at no cost after receiving a letter from the agency assuring the board the only requirement would be that the lake must be open to the public at all times that the park is open. Tom Bacula, of the IDNR, said the park could only be open from dusk to dawn.