LAKE COUNTY — Throughout the month of September, the Lake County Parks and Recreation Commission hosted input workshops in Chase Township, Elk Township and Luther to discuss the 27 acres of county-owned property in Webber Township and various projects the commission has identified.

"We thought we would try something new and talk to folks in other parts of the county that don't always get a chance to hear what is going on," said Lake County Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Dan Cousar.

The three projects discussed were a youth training center/staging area for off-road vehicles, which could potentially be constructed on the 27 acres the county owns, a recreation and wellness center with a swimming pool and accessibility to waterways.

Earlier this year, Lake County Parks and Recreation Commission discussed a scramble area for the 27 acres, a designated area for ORVs to go off the trails and play around, but upon researching the matter, it was determined the land would not be big enough, and with the Webber Township Youth Park being near the property, noise and dust were a concern.

National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council drew up a concept plan for a youth training center.

"The training center would be designed with actual obstacles youth would come across on trails," Cousar added.

During the workshop in Luther, resident Cliff Demos suggested putting a beverage machine with soda and water at a staging area and more singage pointing out directions along the trails.

"There are a lot of four-wheelers in the Luther area, and they stop to get gasoline in Carrieville," he said. "My wife and I ask people what they think of our trails and they say we have the best trails around."

Lake County Parks and Recreation Commission member Ernie Wogatzke suggested more accommodations to keep trail riders in Lake County, adding the ORV training center could eventually evolve into a small camping area with a dumpster for wastewater tanks on campers. He suggested an end goal could be to have showers available on the site.

At the workshop in Elk Township, resident Joyce Durdell said a training area for ORVs would be good, and suggested emphasis on ORV safety and law of the roads. She feels a campground area with picnic tables would make sense.

Elk Township Supervisor Lou Fitz chimed in, saying there would be more financial support for the ORV training center and draw in more tourists, but the recreational center with a swimming pool would greatly benefit people in the community.

Elk township officials discussed partnering with the county for accessibility projects on the Little Manistee River.

The Lake County Parks and Recreation Commission is interested in hearing further input from residents or those who visit the area for recreational purposes. Suggestions can be emailed to Dan Cousar at