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Published: Monday, 9/1/2003

Hillsdale schools may reacquire park

HILLSDALE - A community park on Hillsdale's west side, which at times has been owned by the school district and the city, soon could fall under school ownership again.

Ownership depended on which entity had money for upkeep or access to grants.

City Manager Tim Vagle said Hillsdale is preparing to sign the deed back to Hillsdale Community Schools. The change is expected to be in about two months, he said.

“We feel that transferring it back to the school makes good sense,” Mr. Vagle said Friday.

The schools maintained the 10-acre park with its tennis and basketball courts, pavilion, and ballfield, until about 20 years ago, when the lack of funds for upkeep prompted the board of education to deed the property to the city.

The park is adjacent to the high school and is used by the various sports teams.

Mr. Vagle said Hillsdale can't afford to spend an estimated $20,000 to $40,000 needed to replace the surface of the tennis court and fix the pavilion.

“They're in real need of attention, but there aren't the funds available,” he said.

The school district indicated its willingness to pay for the renovations, the city manager said, although a final decision has not yet been made.

School board member Jim Bowen said the district could not finance medium and long-range planning goals involving the park because they did not own it. The district's building and site committee will meet Wednesday to discuss how to proceed and likely make a recommendation for the full board, which meets Sept. 15.

When Hillsdale first took the property off the school's hands, the city had access to grant money that the schools did not, Mr. Bowen said. The situation has since changed.

“Nobody's really great financially but the school district is in a little better situation than the town,” he said.

The city manager said Hillsdale will continue to put its resources into its six other parks that encompass about 300 acres. Regardless of ownership, the land will continue to be available for public use, he said.

“It's not going to have an impact on the public's use,” Mr. Vagle said.

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