Monday, September 3, 2012

Cottage in the Woods

Forks Township and the Cottage in the Woods.
I have followed this story since 2002 the story started before many of the current Township Officials even took up residence in Forks Township. 

Back in 2002 Forks Supervisors reinterpreted a rule that covered builders impact fees and decided they could confiscate land instead of collecting builders impact fees.  In taking a few acres of land that adjoined the community park. They forced a builder to completely redesign his development at a cost of 10’s of thousands of dollars, and caused further distress, and tens of Thousands of dollars to a Family trying to settle an estate.

Quickly the intended use of this land was changed from open space to Athletic fields that would be put under the control of the Private Sports Club “Forks Township Youth Sports”  The residents of Lafayette Park Complained that not only that Baseballs would be hit into there yards but since the proposed Ball Fields were landlocked access would be through there yards and Parking would block there Streets.

Concerns were ignored and Forks Township started Construction of the Ball Fields.  From what I have been told the first attempt to level and seed the fields failed when the contractor misread the plans. I have heard this cost the Taxpayers for that fiasco was $40.000.00. In recent years excavating has continued but the Township has still been unable to complete a single Ball Field.

I understand that the Cottage and it’s 6 acres of woods were purchased in 2002 and the House just to the West of it was purchased a few years ago.  I don’t think there was a particular plan for ether property until the Township addressed lack of Parking Issues at the Community Park and Recreation  Center. (more on that later)

As the 5 year Recreation Plan was written lack of Parking was addressed.  The Plan was to remove the House, the 6 acres of dense woods, and build an entrance and Parking lot to provide access to the Ball Fields. When this plan became public there was opposition to the plan of tearing down a perfectly good house, destroying 6 acres of wildlife Habitat just to provide a parking lot.

There are many problems with this Plan that Forks Township Officials have not addressed, however they seem to have focused the discussion on 2 points. 1 the cost to tear down the “Cottage in the Woods” at $9000.00 verses the cost to refurbish the Cottage at $23,000.00.  The Cost of refurbishing the Cottage is based on non professional estimates, the cost of Demolition only covers removing the Cottage and not the total cost of the Project.

I estimate the Parking Lot Project at a total cost of several Hundred Thousand Dollars.  Just imagine the Cost to remove hundreds of Trees, remove and recycle hundreds of Tree Stumps, and strip the topsoil fill and pave.  There is still questions about acquiring Permits, drainage and storm runoff issues, and Environmental questions.  Forks Township Officials have avoided addressing the costs of the total Project. 

In the past few Months several options have been discussed for the “Cottage in the Woods”  The Forks Township Arts Society have proposed remodeling the House for meetings and Art Programs.  The House could be Subdivided, Sold, and returned to the Tax Rolls, while the Woods could become a picnic area or walking trails.

I have written this from what I have heard and read over the years.  Unfortunatly much of the discussion was not recorded in the minutes of the Supervisors of Recreation Board. Any Additions of Corrections would be appreciated.