Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Park system adds 60 acres

The Olander Park System increased by 60 acres recently, when it added property that is in the midst of a planned housing development east of Michaw Road between Sylvania Avenue and Brint Road.

The system closed on the purchase of 46.7 acres for $1.4 million and accepted a donation of an additional 13.3 acres from the seller, Brint Road Developers.

The area might take up to 15 years before its development is complete, said Gary Madrzykowski, director of the system.

Much of the system's early work on the acreage will be in reforestation and restoration of natural wetlands, he said.

The land the system has purchased is part of a housing development planned for the remainder of about 180 acres. Park land runs along the eastern edge of the property at Sylvania Avenue and near the western edge at Brint. Much of it spreads out in the center of the acreage.

Although there is a survey that specifically defines the parkland, Mr. Madrzykowski said there is an unwritten agreement with the developers that if some adjustments need to be made, both parties will try to adjust to accommodate the needs of the other.

The land is part of what had once been planned as a pricey subdivision surrounding an equally upscale golf course with a southwestern theme, but those plans ended amid lawsuits and other financial problems.

Mr. Madrzykowski credited Stephen Mitchell, one of the new developers of the land, with bringing the idea to him of incorporating park space into the project.

“Without their cooperation we'd have never put this together and I'm sure we'll work well together in the future,'' Mr. Madrzykowski said.

As housing increases in the area, the park system would seek opinions from people living nearby for ideas on what amenities they would like.

As envisioned, the park will be heavily forested near Brint, and will have butterfly meadows and wetlands toward Sylvania. Eventually it will have entry roads, bicycle trails, a sledding hill, and a community hall, he said.

The bicycle trail may eventually become a safety benefit by keeping bikes off increasingly busy roads, and allowing a way for children on bikes to get to nearby Timberstone Junior High School.

Trustees of the system were cautious in deciding to buy the property, in part because it is the first time in the 45-year history of the district that Olander has incurred a debt.

“But it also may be the last time a parcel of this size will be available in the district,'' Mr. Madrzykowski said, “and we just couldn't pass up the opportunity.''

The park system paid $300,000 at closing, with the remainder being financed by Sky Bank. The district will pay $200,000 next year and $150,000 annually for the next six years. The park system is pursuing several grants, which may allow the debt to be retired early.

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