Elkhart council members puzzled over Boot Lake Nature Preserve transfer

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(Sam Householder/Elkhart Truth)

The Elkhart City Council is giving away a 296 acre chunk of land, but some members are not too hot about the cost of doing so.

An agreement is in works for Elkhart County to acquire the Boot Lake Nature Preserve from the city by the end of July, according to the Elkhart Truth. But with the transfer comes a $25,000 exchange of money from the city to the county, along with the land.

Why? It’s part of an agreement the city and county made to help finance improvements at the preserve. The city previously shot down a $100,000 proposal from the city to the county, and some members feel the $25,000 figure still doesn’t make sense.

“I have told the mayor that I think it is a huge error,” said council member David Henke. “It is not a critical error, not something I am willing to die on the hill for, but if I am going to give away an asset that right now costs me nothing. I pay county taxes as a resident, so I am willing to give up an asset that the city owns to give it to the county and I am going to get taxed for it anyhow at a higher cost. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”

Council member Pam Kurpgeweit also doesn’t approve of the $25,000 transfer, feeling that they’re getting an asset on top of an asset. However, she does agree that the land should be maintained by the county.

The park needs upwards of $275,000 in improvements, including a working gate, parking lot, a boardwalk through the wetlands, and various security and safety improvements.

Both the Elkhart city and county council and the Park Board need to approve any deal to transfer the property.

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