Residents ask why village plans park outside town limits and inside their neighborhood
For residents of Walden Pond, the Village of Marvin’s planned park doesn’t make sense. Earlier this year, the village council announced plans to build their first park, on a 27.68 acre site. That site however is directly in the middle of the subdivision, split between Phase I and Phase II. Even more, residents wonder why the village’s first park isn’t even within town limits, but rather on a piece of unincorporated Union County.
“Walden Pond is part of unincorporated Union County,” Walden Pond resident Bob Stack said. “This land is not part of Marvin and not on their list of properties to annex. The citizens of Walden Pond are not represented by Marvin.”
That’s one of the issues Stack and other residents have with the idea. They acknowledge the village has a legal right to purchase the property, since the strip of land is privately owned and that owner has indicated his willingness to sell. But they feel the decision was made without giving them any legal recourse, as they couldn’t vote for Marvin council members.
The council members argue otherwise.
“We met with these residents probably nine different times,” Marvin council member Ron Salimao said. “We felt we were going in a direction and understanding each other. We thought there were things we could work with.”
Neighbors feel however their concerns aren’t being heard. One concern is potential vandalism to local homes, with the distance from the park to nearby houses less than 100 yards, even with a small pond running through. As the subdivision is not in village limits, there’s no contract deputy on patrol, meaning that they would depend on a zone officer for protection. Additionally, in order to get any trespassers or vandals from the park arrested, Walden Pond residents would have to take out warrants, rather than seeing any type of support from the village.
“This is not a ‘Not in my Backyard’ issue,” Walden Pond resident Paul Schneider said. “I wouldn’t put a park in Ron Salimao’s backyard. I wouldn’t put it in Terri Patton’s backyard. I can’t find anyone who can honestly say they would welcome this in their backyard.”
Another issue deals with who exactly would use the park, planned to be “passive”, as in open pastures, a community garden, community center, picnic areas and trails. Neighboring subdivisions in the village already have trails as part of their community, so the focus would seem to be on a community center. But if the object is to have village hosted events at the park, local residents wonder why council would plan to buy a property right next to other homes, who aren’t even in the village.
“It’s disrespectful, arrogant and bullying on the part of the village to force this on a residential community that isn’t even part of Marvin,” Schneider said.
Council members meanwhile see it as a frugal use of the taxpayers’ money. The property near Walden Pond had the lowest cost of those presented for sale. The other two, within village limits, had price tags of $2.4 and $1.7 million. The cost to purchase the Walden Pond piece came in at $1.2 million.
The village doesn’t have $1.2 million on hand to make the purchase, so they would be engaging the Local Government Commission for financing. Favorable interest rates and the opportunity to apply for a $500,000 grant would provide the Parks and Greenway Committee with options for improvements or getting future assets.
They also point to the fact that Walden Pond and the surrounding area will potentially be annexed into the village over the next several years.
“We want to work together on this thing,” Salimao said. “Most of the people on council have had something behind their houses and we’re trying to make this work for everybody.”
Currently, the council expects closing on the property to be anytime from January to February 2011.