Discussion continues on fate of city parks

Daniel Vasta/The Herald
Baseball field home plate at Uebelhor Park in Jasper.

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

JASPER — For the second consecutive month, the topic of potentially decommissioning a handful of Jasper city parks was discussed at the Jasper Park Board meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

Those parks have been assessed as low-utilization sites. They include the Northwest Suburban Park, Uebelhor Park, 34th Street Park, Hochgesang Park, Seng Park, State Police Park and Centennial Park.

“The park board is continuing to evaluate the utilization of those parks,” board member Dana Schnarr said at the meeting, adding that the board was “not saying that we’re gonna decommission and close the parks, but definitely looking at that possibility.”

She explained that the board’s plan is to continue to evaluate the above facilities and launch an online survey by the end of the month to gather public input.

The department will look at the equipment and amenities currently offered at the properties, as well as their proximity to other, robust parks. The board’s goal is to make a recommendation to the Jasper Common Council in the coming months.

Randy Gehlhausen, who lives adjacent to Seng Park, spoke at the meeting and said his children used the nearby facility when they were growing up. Now, his grandkids would like to use it.

He also expressed concern about how Seng Park would be zoned if it ceased being a city-maintained site. City Attorney Renee Kabrick said the land would maintain its residential zoning.

The owners of the 41 surrounding subdivision lots each own an equal share of the lot the park sits on, she said. The plat specifies that the land must be used for recreational purposes, but it does not specify that the city needs to maintain it.

So, if Seng Park was decommissioned and no longer treated as a city facility, the owners of the lots who have a stake in the land would decide what to do with it. They would also be tasked with maintaining it. This is also the case with 34th Street Park.

The Hochgesang Park property was deeded to the city with no restrictions placed on the deed. However, the plat states that the property “shall be used by the public for recreational purposes,” Kabrick wrote in a followup email. So, the city is the sole owner of the property, but it is bound to continue to use the lot for recreational purposes until the owners of the neighboring lots vote to allow a change to the usage.

Northwest Suburban Park and Uebelhor Park would revert back to their original owners if the parks were decommissioned.

The city has outright ownership of the State Police Park, and while research still needs to be done on Centennial Park, Kabrick suspects the city is free to do what it wants to do with that property.




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