Washington County Planning and Parks wants to purchase land adjacent to Glacier Hills to continue and expand a boat launch on Friess Lake at the current Wally and Bees property. No one who spoke in Public Comment or from the board supported paying $250K. Some residents supported offering funding to the county others were totally against it. It is important to note that the money is only to purchase the land. The Village has no authority over the design or maintenance but the Plan Commission would need to hold meetings to discuss and decide any zoning changes and plan of operation.
Trustee Bill Collins expressed his concern that if there is no boat launch on Freiss Lake the lake property values might go down and the village would have less tax revenue. President John Jeffords noted, if another boat launch location was implemented the cost could be much more. Trustee Dan Neu was concerned as never before had Richfield helped fund a boat launch.
Karl Glunz, a resident on Friess Lake, spoke just before the board went into closed session and expressed his concern that the County has not asked to speak with the Friess Lake Association or any residents who live on the lake regarding the land purchase. He feels it is important for lake residents to have input to this project.
At a previous meeting Karl offered a suggestion to redesign the plan of a steep road from the top of the park down to the beach and boat launch. He suggested the county consider a plan that uses the same road that now leads into Wally and Bees. It would probably save costs and retain the beauty of the property.
Karl asked the board if they go ahead and financially support the land purchase, to include in their response to the County a contingency that residents on the lake have an opportunity for input in the design of the property.
After closed session to discuss their decision, the board came back into session and voted to offer the County only $50K over 5 years beginning in 2018. That way they can get funding into a budget and the cost will not impact road projects etc. Rock Brandner had to recuse himself as he is a County Board Supervisor. Bill Collins and John Jeffords voted yes and Dan Neu voted no.
Next step is for the County to review the Richfield Village Board decision and make their decision.