Roadwork near county park sparks tempers

Herald Staff Writer

BRETZVILLE — Tempers flared Monday over proposed roadwork near Dubois County Park, but the pyrotechnics were short lived.

The Dubois County Park and Recreation Board wants to build a second entrance to the park.
The half-mile road would branch off an unnamed private road south of the park and connect with the looping road near the park’s campground. But plans have stalled after the Dubois County Council balked at the cost, which could reach $300,000.

About 20 people, mostly homeowners who live near the park, gathered Monday at the county fairgrounds, which abuts the park, to get answers about the roadwork. Carol Martin was the most vocal.

“I want to know to exactly where you’re wanting to put this road and how much of my property I’m having to give up,” she said.

Martin said she was upset that the park board hasn’t been more transparent.

“I’ve not been fully brought up to date on any of this stuff until recently,” she said.

“If you don’t want us to do it, that’s fine,” park board President Jason Schmitt said.

“I just want information,” Martin shot back. “I can’t even get that.”

Those who live on the private road, which is east of County Road 50E and north of County Road 450S, would turn over some of their property by signing a right-of-way petition. In exchange, their gravel road would be paved and widened.

County Engineer Jason Heile said it’s too early to tell how much property each homeowner would lose. The project still is in its early stages.

“I just want to know what they’re taking away,” Martin said.

She also was concerned about flooding but was assured that ditches would be installed to help with drainage.

“It’s not like they’re going to try to pull any shenanigans,” Schmitt said.

Later on, park board member Jane Betz asked Martin, “Are you OK with it now?” Martin nodded her head.

Most of the homeowners said they are in favor of the roadwork. Paving the road is seen as necessary and long overdue.

If the road were paved, school buses could pick up children in front of their homes. About 15 children live on the private road. The nearest bus stop is at County Road 50E.

Homeowner Alex Mlsna asked board members for a timetable. He pointed out that plans have been in discussion for months. When would roadwork begin?

Schmitt acknowledged that some pieces haven’t fallen into place. The project has been scaled back to make the cost more palatable.

Instead of paving the private road with asphalt, the county would use chip and seal, a move that would save about $75,000.

A second entrance to the park, which would be gated and unpaved, would be used if there were an emergency during a crowded event like the Dubois County 4-H Fair, when emergency vehicles might have a hard time entering the park from State Road 162. It also would allow the park board to develop about 50 acres of land that the county bought in 2011 near the park.

The county council is expected to revisit the issue in August. If council members OK the cost, roadwork could begin next summer.

“I think we can convince the council to give us the money,” County Commissioner Larry Vollmer told the homeowners.

Contact Tony Raap at

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