Open land presents rare opportunityOctober 17, 2013
By TONY RAAP
Herald Staff Writer
JASPER — Greg Krodel, a silver-haired retiree, gazed across the overgrown greens at the former Jasper Country Club and tried to envision what could be.
“You often don’t have an opportunity like this to make something really nice,” Krodel said. “It comes along once in a lifetime.”
He and his wife, Sarah, were among some 50 people on Wednesday who toured the grounds of the nine-hole golf course, sharing their ideas on what should be done with the property now that it is owned by the city.
Hosted by the Jasper Park and Recreation Department, the “Imagine the Possibilities Tour” was meant to gauge public opinion.
After taking a look around, residents filled out a survey asking how they would like the land to be used. Most were in favor of turning the almost 60 acres into an outdoor recreation area with walking trails and picnic tables.
“We have an interest in seeing this property being developed in a proper way,” Krodel said. “The city would benefit with a nice large park.”
The country club, which was owned by Club Management of Dubois County, closed in December. City officials in January decided to buy the property for more than $1 million, and the purchase was finalized in April.
The majority of the land is expected to become a park, but the question is “What type of park?”
Ballfields and a playground could be built, or city officials may decide the land would be better served as a nature area.
May Kaiser, a retiree who lives near the property, said Jasper has enough ballparks. If the city went that route, it would be costlier because crews would have to level the hilly terrain. She believes the course should be converted into a nature park.
“It would be nice to have places to have picnics,” she said.
Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools has expressed interest in buying some of the land from the city. An advisory committee and two consulting firms, CityVisions in Louisville and Gamble Associates in Boston, will help decide what to do with the property.
“They are close to coming up with some final recommendations,” said Darla Blazey, the city’s community development and planning director.
Dave Prechtel, a member of the city council, served as Wednesday’s unofficial tour guide, narrating the jaunt from a golf cart.
“A lot of good memories out here,” said Prechtel, who began golfing at the country club with his wife, Nancy, in the 1960s.
“I lost a lot of golf balls in the woods there,” he said, pointing to a row of trees near what was the fourth hole.
The club has been around for more than a century. In 1901, it was known as the Dubois County Golf Club, then morphed into the Dubois County Country Club in 1927.
The property was sold in 1932, and the club’s name was changed to Jasper Country Club in 1964. Club Management bought the land in 1985.
After it closed, the property was sold in pieces. The Hanselmans, who also own the Schnitzelbank Restaurant, bought the clubhouse and turned it into a banquet facility called KlubHaus 61.
Neighboring property owners also bought a few acres. A parcel of land on the property’s east side is still for sale.
Brendan O’Connor stood near a picnic table with his wife, Robin, while they filled out a survey. He hoped the land would be converted into a place “that’s peaceful” where “you could walk around.”
“There’s some psychological benefit to having an open space,” he said.
A few feet away, Krista Seger held her 11-month-old son, Jack, as she watched her daughters Addie, 4, and Ellie, 2, play in the grass.
She and her husband, Phil, also would like to see the property become an outdoor recreation area.
“It doesn’t really need to have gym equipment,” she said. “Just a place where people could come and hang out and have picnics with kids.”
Wednesday was the first time she had walked the property. She hopes to bring her children back once city officials decide what they’ll do with the land.
“I just think it’s such a beautiful piece of property that we could do something really amazing with,” she said.
Contact Tony Raap at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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