Township board confident of settlement with sportsman club for property deed

BALDWIN — It appears that the Pleasant Plains Township board and Lake County Sportmans Club have reached agreement on giving the club access to a piece of property it needs for a clubgrounds site.

There still may be a hurdle or two to overcome to complete the transaction.

The township board and club members met Monday night in a workshop to discuss the issue.

Action has to be taken up by the board at its next meeting. The sportman club is looking to have a 100-acre piece of property in the Baldwin airport area to be used for club facilities.

“We’re being told by our attorney that we have to put it out for bids,” township supervisor Jeff Chamberlain said Tuesday afternoon. “We don’t have to take a bid, so we’re still working on it, but we have it down a little bit.”

Both Chamberlain and sportman’s club president Rick Delamater noted that this was a workshop and formal action has to be taken later. But Delamater, who had not talked with Chamberlain yet about the attorney’s message, said Tuesday night he was encouraged with Monday’s results.

“Consensus was they would deed the sportman club the property for a dollar,” Delamater said, “That’s great news. It’s taken awhile to get there but the outcome is phenomenal.”

Delamater is optimistic everything is on the right track despite the comments from the township’s attorney.

“It has to be in the public interest if you’re doing this. It has to be good for the businesses, which it will be, and good for the residents because it’s a safe place to go shoot,” Delamater said, adding that in a 2005 township recreation plan, “one of the major things they thought would be good for the township and county was to have a sportsman club with shooting facility.”

Chamberlain voiced optimism that a sportsman club site could eventually become reality.

“A workshop we decided which way we wanted to go, but we can’t take a vote at a workshop,” Chamberlain said. “So we put it to the attorney and he’s sending us a letter, most probably saying we can’t go the way we want to and will probably have to put it out for bid. That’s our next step.

“Next year, 2014, properties owned by municipalities, if they’re not used for what they’re intended for like industrial parks, they are going to start to be taxed. We have 100 acres there that was designed for an industrial park, but we don’t see an industrial park coming in. We may have to go to the people and have a public hearing and say ‘look, we don’t want to start paying taxes on 100 acres. We’d like to see it being used. It’s the consensus of the board right now that the best thing for it would be the sportman’s club.”

Chamberlain said it’s the consensus of the board that the property be deeded and not leased.

“If we lease it, that opens us up to being part owners. If we deed it, then we’re walking away from the property,” Chamberlain said.