Sturgis lake proposal meeting today

The Sturgis Aquatics Committee is proposing the city build a man-made lake surrounded by other recreational amenities on city land. Courtesy photo

STURGIS — A third community presentation about the proposed Sturgis Lakeside Adventure Park will be today at the Sturgis Community Center.

The meeting, hosted by the Sturgis Aquatics Committee, will begin at 6 p.m. Members of the committee said they wanted to offer a presentation on a night other than Wednesday which is traditionally set aside for church activities.

The group held their second meeting Wednesday, explaining in more detail the features and workings of the proposed man-made lake and park which may be built on 24 acres at the Sturgis Fairgrounds on Ball Park Road.  

The meeting featured Ron Romens of Commercial Recreation Specialists, a Wisconsin company that specializes in building man-made lakes.

Romens has worked with the committee to answer questions about the feasibility of building the lake in the heart of Sturgis. Last week during his visit to Sturgis, he was able to tour the Fairgrounds property.

“I think it’s a gem of a property,” he said. “I didn’t see negatives in the property. All the key pieces are all there.”

The city had originally looked at building an outdoor splash pad in an area near the Sturgis Community Center. It was at the suggestion of Allison Creed-Carter, chairperson of the Sturgis Aquatics Committee, that the city look to the fairgrounds property as a potential location for an outdoor aquatics venue.

The city has plans to sell the fairgrounds land to a developer for housing, but retain land for a park within a housing development.

Tammy DesJarlais, who lives along Ball Park Road, said she was concerned about increasing property taxes if new homes were built in the area, and asked why the homes had to be part of the plan.

Jeff DeKraai, co-chair of the Sturgis Aquatics Committee, said 75% of the estimated $2.7 million it would cost for the Lakeside Adventure Park would be funded using a TIF, or tax increment finance district from the housing development.

DesJarlais urged the committee to stick with a park and forget about the housing.

“What’s that going to do to the people’s taxes when you’ve got houses up there that are going to go in there for $300,000, $400,000? That’s gonna raise everybody’s taxes in that area. Is it not?” she said.

DeKraai said that as he understands, taxes would not be raised to fund this project. The revenue would come from new development.

Richelle Bruch, a local real estate agent and member of the Aquatics Committee, said the current supply and demand of housing in Sturgis has meant increases in home values.

Meade County Equalization Director Rhea Crane clarified that homes would be assessed as compared to like properties.

“We’re not going to go in and reassess an older neighborhood based on a new neighborhood going in,” she said.

Aquatics Committee members say community support is needed to make the park a reality. The committee plans to present a letter of support for the proposal to the Sturgis City Council in the near future which will determine if, or when, the park project is approved.

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