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Hobart Residents Seek to Save Their Park

October 6, 2009 by   - () Leave a Comment

Opponents of a proposed recreational vehicle development that incorporates Robinson Lake in Hobart, Ind., want to make sure their voices are heard before the project becomes a reality.

To that end, 4th District Councilman Dave Vinzant says he will introduce a resolution Wednesday (Oct. 7) that would call for development there to follow the natural resource orientation of the area, according to the Gary Post-Tribune.

Vinzant said by introducing the resolution the council, residents of the city 38 miles southeast of Chicago will have a chance to discuss the proposal before it takes shape.

In the past, fishermen fished at Robinson Lake. As of October 2006, former Mayor Linda Buzenic announced the “highest and best use” for Robinson Lake would be to put it up for sale, according to the Post-Tribune.

“There has been a rough proposal for a plan to do some development along Hobart’s west side. There is no formal proposal at this point,” he said. That plan calls for converting the vacant St. Sava picnic property into a RV park and youth center with the city either leasing or selling the public lake to the developers for the project.

Vinzant said residents’ concerns are varied. Many fear losing the natural buffer that separates the west side residential area of Hobart with the heavy crime neighborhood of Gary’s Glen Park. Others do not want to lose access to the public area they frequent.

Environmental concerns include losing the continuous natural green space on the west side of the city, which also includes lands owned by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the Shirley Heinz Foundation.

The city closed the park four years ago, after banning swimming because it was not cost-effective to staff it with lifeguards. The park’s gate has been closed since then but the site is routinely used by people who jog, walk their dogs or fish in the lake.

Since the proposal was first made public, it has met opposition by both residents and the Sierra Club Dunelands Group. Residents have formed a group called Friends of Robinson Lake to oppose any development there.

Member Sandy O’Brien, who is also a member of the Sierra Club Dunelands Group, said the Friends of Robinson Lake want to see it remain a public park.

“It’s a valuable piece of green infrastructure in an area where there isn’t a lot of green space,” O’Brien said.

The group is rallying supporters to attend Wednesday’s council meeting.

“It’s very important for the councilmen to see that people care,” O’Brien said.

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