After more than a year, progress is finally being made on creating a new public park in the town of Crescent.
In September of last year, members of Crescent's volunteer fire department came before the town board asking that officials consider developing a public park area on a piece of town property. Events like community picnics and pig roasts hadn't been held in a few years and they wanted to bring some new energy to the department's activities, they explained. The only problem? Where to hold such events.
Town officials began investigating the options. Expansion off of the current town hall/fire department site on Golf Course Road seemed to be the ideal option. Parking, kitchen and bathroom facilities would already be available at the town hall and less time and money would have to be spent to create a park area.
But town officials discovered expansion options were limited. The town did not own the property directly to the south which would have worked best for a park. Land to the west owned by the town was deemed unusable. Town board chairman Bill Treder said the land immediately slopes down into a swamp area, before eventually rising and plateauing again.
The swamp caused a similar dilemma for a neighboring property owner to the west. He owned the property south of the town hall Crescent officials coveted. However, it was of a little use to him since the swamp cut it off from the rest of his property to the west. The land the town owned, but couldn't use, worked better for the property owner.
"We talked to the landowner and he agreed we could make (a land swap) work," Treder said.
At the annual meeting in April, Crescent residents directed the town board to pursue the land swap and acquire the property south of the town hall.
"It came time to go to the courthouse to get the property deed and I found the restriction," Treder said.
A deed restriction prevented the town from being able to sell any of its Golf Course Road property. Wausau Paper donated the land to the town in the late 1990s, but put a restriction on the deed that the land could only be used for the purposes of constructing a town hall and/or fire department and couldn't be sold.
Treder said he attempted to contact Wausau Paper about removing the deed restrictions several times with emails and phone calls over the course of five months. He received no response until just recently. Wausau Paper has agreed to lift the deed restrictions and things are back on track for the creation of the public park.
"We're having the legal paperwork drawn up for Wausau Paper to sign," Treder said. "Until the paperwork is signed, it's hard to move forward."
Treder said the town's request was overshadowed by the city of Rhinelander also approaching Wausau Paper recently about lifting deed restrictions on Northwood Golf Club. Treder said he thinks Wausau Paper's cooperation came more quickly once he explained what exactly the town was looking to do and that it had no ties to the city's request.
Once the deed restrictions are officially lifted, the town will complete the land swap. Treder said the town is receiving more land than it is giving in the trade so there is also some money involved. He said it will be the difference between the two land values which is approximately $13,000.
"I'm sure the firefighters have visions for the park," Treder said.
He said actual plans haven't developed though since the land issue has been in limbo. Now those plans will soon be able to take form.
It's the option town officials were looking for from the get-go: a park expansion off of the town hall/fire department site.
During the discussion more than a year ago, a town-owned property off of South River Road around the site of a former landfill was suggested for a possible location. But a site such as that would have come with issues such as the cost of providing power and installing a septic system.
"(The property we're acquiring) is convenient because we can put up a shelter and picnic areas and we have facilities here already (i.e. kitchen, bathroom)," Treder said. "If the park was offsite, we would have to worry about all that."
Kyle Rogers may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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