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Lake City council gets preview of regional park discussion

January 16, 2019
Phil Gartner

LAKE CITY — In a lead-up to an open house scheduled for Thursday, the Lake City City Council Monday was presented some of the ideas for the Hok-Si-La Park Master Plan.

The city is planning to upgrade the park, which was acquired and developed in the 1970s in a deal with the Boy Scouts of America. Part of plan is to develop a master plan and have Hok-Si-La designated as a regional park to be eligible for state funding.

The city will host an open house at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall to get public input on the master plan, but City Council Member Philip Gartner, who was the city attorney when the original deal for Hok-Si-La was made more than 40 years ago, said he likes the direction the city is heading with the plan.

“The peacefulness of the park just needs to be maintained for future generations,” Gartner said.

Information given Monday to the council included a survey of who uses the park now, and where those individuals come from. Responses to the survey showed about 50 percent of the park’s current users come from more than 10 miles away, and 28 percent come from more than 50 miles to use the park.

More than half of the users bring children to the park, and 39 percent bring a dog when visiting. The survey also showed activities people would like to see in the park such as organized hikes, fitness classes, outdoor recreation and after-school programs.

Gartner said the encouraging part of the information given Monday is that the plan is moving toward a mission of maintaining the purpose of the park, keeping it safe and environmentally preserved.

“It’s a serene space, a space for meditation, peacefulness and quiet,” Gartner said.

City Administrator Rob Keehn said Thursday’s open house will start with a brief presentation of the process of development of the master plan, the benefits of a park master plan, and examples of some of the work already done to maintain the park.

“The need for the (master plan) was created as a step in seeking funding,” Keehn said, adding that surveys show the park is already used by people from well beyond Lake City. “It is functionally a regional park.”

Funding from the state, he said, could be used for improvements such as a switch from a septic system to connection to the city’s sewer system, upgrades to trails, or added amenities.

In other business, Mayor Mark Nichols announced that Council Member Marylou Waltman had submitted her resignation. The council will formally accept it Jan. 23.

At that time, the city will advertise for individuals to apply to fill the remaining two years of Waltman’s term.

The city will not hold a special election to fill the seat, Nichols said. Instead, the city council will vote at some later date on a candidate from the pool of applicants. In the event of a tie, the mayor would appoint a new city council member.

Nichols said Waltman had served on the city council for 10 years. “I appreciate her service,” he said.

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