Fliers are flying green with anger in the Town of East Troy, Wi touting local government has gone awry with a lust to complete a park trail at taxpayer expense.
Claiming unnecessary waste and poor public support, the fliers were distributed on three separate week-ends to town property owners in anticipation of a town sponsored information forum to be held at the town hall on Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 9:30 a.m.
The idea for a modest 2 mile park trail began in 1994 when the Town applied for a Stewardship Grant to purchase and develop a small park.
The park initially started as a bite-sized parcel of 12 acres. Later, a developer would contribute 10 additional acres from a larger property that would someday be transformed from farmland into a sprawling 5-acre per household subdivision.
According to the website for the Department of Natural Resources, a Stewardship grant targets acquisition and development for public projects such as parks, nature trails, and water recreation.
Grants are awarded by a rating scale upon which the number and type of amenities contribute to an overall score. Some items, such as a park trail, score higher than other amenities, such as a picnic table or fire pit because the DNR has determined that trails are highly desirable throughout the state of Wisconsin.
Former Town Chairman Robert Mueller recalls that adding a trail to the town’s park project boosted the overall score to help the town compete for limited funds that would support the park.
“Naturally, the park committee was aiming for the best bang for the buck by encircling the park with a trail. However, it soon became apparent that a trail around 22 acres provided limited recreational opportunities,” said Mueller.
Mueller explained that the concept for a trail was appealing to the community because it would offer a safe, secure environment with easy access and parking for young and old alike. “The town does not have sidewalks and its roads are not wide enough for safe passage by pedestrians,” said Mueller.
As the park project gained momentum, the park committee obtained permission from the developer of the proposed Beulah Farms subdivision to extend the trail on a land easement throughout the subdivision.
The expanded version of the trail encompasses 2.1 miles or 11,088 feet. Of the total, 6,016 feet would be within the proposed Beulah Farms subdivision. To date, 5,245 feet of the subdivision trail have been constructed and are in place. About 771 feet have yet to be completed across two of the subdivision lots.
“The town was in the process of building the trail when the owners of the two parcels filed a lawsuit in 2005 against the town for trespassing,” said Mueller. “Apparently, the easement for these parcels was not recorded on the titles as it was for the other properties.”
The litigation ended after 2 years when the Walworth County Courts defined the settlement and gave the town an option to condemn that portion of the properties that were needed to complete the trail.
“After protracted deliberation and failure to get consensus from the property owners, the Town Board initiated condemnation procedures according to Wisconsin law,” said Mueller. “This process requires that the property owners be compensated at fair market value for land associated with the eight foot easement on their property.”
The Walworth County Board of Condemnation must review the appraisals before the town can proceed.
Although the town park and the related trail have been brought up for discussion throughout the years, the town board announced at its March 8, 2010 board meeting to seek more citizen participation to determine the fate of the park trail.
The Town will host an information forum at the Town Hall at N9330 Stewart School Road on Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. Two speakers in favor of the trail, Robert Mueller and Patrick Hudec, two speakers opposed to the trail, Adam Teresinski and Kim Hampel, guided by moderator Frank Scherkenbach will make up the forum.
On April 6, 2010 town electors will vote whether they want the town to complete the trail.
Contact the Town Clerk of East Troy for further information at (262) 642-5386.