County and Township coordinate on ORV park

Training area and practice courses part of plan

LAKE COUNTY — The Lake County Parks department is working in coordination with the Lake County board of commissioners and the Webber Township board of trustees to create an ORV training and practice area near the Webber Township Community Park on M-37.

The tentative plan includes a safety training area, a ‘Tot Lot’ learners’ loop, a beginners’ trail and a skills development trail.

Additional improvements include an extended paved parking area, a secondary access route from M-37, a walking path and observation area near the training park, and renovated rest rooms.

The estimated cost for the project is around $750,000.

“With an overall cost of around $750,000, the proposal would be for the county to pay $400,000 with a DNR Trust fund grant of $300,000 and a match portion of $140,000,” County Administrator Tobi Lake said. “The Webber Township project costs would be around $261,000 with a grant request of $196,000 and a match of $67,000.”

“The DNR grant limit is $300,000, so we envision two grants being submitted, one on behalf of the county for improvements in the park to the north, and one on behalf of the township for the park to the south,” he said.

Lake added that the two grant proposals will compliment each other, and if successful, will be around $500,000 in funding.

“This is the direction where we think we can get the most bang for our buck,” he said.

Parks Commission director Ryan Coffee added that in discussions with the DNR representative regarding the trust fund grants, it was stressed that applying for the grant as one big project will put the county and the township in a better position with respect to the grant process.

“We will be in a better position from the DNR perspective as a project because of the cohesiveness,” he said.

The DNR Trust Fund grant requires a 25% match, which means the county and the township would need to pledge those funds toward the project.

“The project will need approval from the Parks Commission, the county board of commissioners and the township board of trustees,” Lake said.

The Lake County board of commissioners approved moving forward on the project and the grant application, along with a financial commitment of $180,000 during its meeting last week.

During the Webber Township board of trustees meeting last week, Lake presented information about the project explaining how they plan to submit the information for the DNR grant.

"We will need to submit two separate grants, one for the south end upgrades and one for the north end development," Lake said. "In the concept plans, we want to shoot high. Once they approve the grant, we can adjust the plans as needed."

Lake said once approved for the grants, it will take 12 to 18 months for the funds to be appropriated, so work on the project would likely begin in 2022, with completion in 2023.

County commissioner Robert Sanders encouraged the township board to support the project, saying that recent statistics have shown an increase of 47% in ORV visitors to the area during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"A representative from the state said that Lake County is a premier location for ORV's in the state," Sanders said. "I understand if you want to go your own way, but if we partner on this, it will be an awesome project."

Following the discussion on the project, the board of trustees give their tentative approval for the project to move forward, pending a public input session on the topic.

Trustee Dan Cousar told the board that everything in the plans sounded good, but he would like to share the new information with the public before moving forward.

"Previously we did not have enough details about the project, and we received some pushback from the public," Cousar said. "We assured them at the time that we would be transparent about the details, so I feel that we need to have a public input session and share this new information with the public."

The board agreed and set the public input session for 6 p.m., Feb. 18. A public hearing on the proposal will be held at 5:30 p.m., March 11, prior to their regular monthly meeting.

For information on how to participate in the meetings, visit or the Webber Township Facebook page.

The Lake County parks department will host a public forum at 3 p.m., March 8, to get input from the community on the ORV park plans and the grant proposal.

To participate in the public forum, or to view the the ORV Training Park plans and the DNR grant proposal visit