City Lake thrown a lifesaver
Is City Lake for sale or not? No, not really ... but that isn't to say it couldn't happen and a group of Baldwin City residents doesn't want to take any chances.
Baldwin resident Mary Swan heads a group that plans on circulating a petition to stop any sale of the 54-acre park southeast of the city which includes a lake. However, to this point, there isn't a petition.
"I haven't done anything yet, but I'm going to do something," said Swan, who has lived here for 40 years. "It's been Christmas time and I've been busy. I haven't had time. But, I think I'll get it on the ballot."
Although the rumors of the sale of the lake have been circulating for some time, the city's stance has not changed. City officials have denied that the lake is for sale since the first time the rumors surfaced.
"This is a non-issue," said Larry Paine, city administrator. "We've got other things to deal with. Someone is making this an issue. It's not an issue with us. At the moment, there is nothing going on. There is no story here.
"Keeping it for future needs makes sense," said Paine. "At this point there is no plan for it."
Still the rumors persist. And, they've been intertwined with the city's current look at buying 160 acres southwest of the city for a proposed recreation and business park. City councilman Lee Whaley has even said it's his understanding if the city buys the 160-acre tract priced at $590,000, there would need to be some land sold to help pay for it.
To some, that means City Lake. A recent appraisal of the land, requested by the council, put the price of the land at around $3,600 an acre. With 54 acres, that means $194,400, which is a far cry from the $590,000 price tag out west.
And that's also where the possibility of selling City Lake does in fact exist, at least in Paine's mind.
"If someone came out and offered a half a million dollars for it (City Lake), it would be gone," he said. "But, by the same token, there is no pressure to get rid of it.
"There is no reason for us to be doing anything out there at the moment. We're doing minimum maintenance out there," he said. "It's not going to be a location for ballfields. I do think it fits into the city's need for recreation property, but not right now. Maybe in 20, 30 or 40 years."
But, just to make sure, the nature observers, fishermen and Boy Scouts who use City Lake intend to squelch any attempt at selling the land by eventually circulating a petition to put it to a vote.
"It seems to me that that's the way to go," said Swan. "I like it better. At least we'd know what the people think."