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County Board approves revised recreation plan

CRYSTAL FALLS—The future of recreation in Iron County was the main topic of discussion when the Iron County Board of Commissioners met Feb. 9.
    Prior to the regular monthly meeting, a public hearing was held to allow final public input and comment on the 2016-2020 Iron County Recreation Plan. Later, during the regular meeting, the board accepted the rec plan as presented. The plan is available for viewing on the county website at ironmi.org.
    The plan, completed by the Iron County Parks and Recreation Commission in conjunction with GEI Consultants and with public input, outlines the county’s recreation inventory, goals and objectives and an action plan going forward.
    “Our goals and objectives are based on our abundantly available natural resources, our current inventory of recreational facilities, our inventory of potential sites for new facilities and our population,” the report reads.
    In the plan, the Parks and Recreation Commission acknowledged the importance of involving the public in planning future improvements to the county’s recreation facilities. Input was obtained from direct participation of the various municipalities and from a survey that was sent to county residents.
    The plan lists goals and objectives including:
    --To provide a wide variety of year-round recreational opportunities to all residents and visitors to the county
    --To maintain and improve existing resources and facilities
    --To develop facilities that enhance cultural, historic and natural characteristics of the area or sites
    --To develop facilities or to modify existing facilities to accommodate persons with disabilities to the extent possible given limited financial resources.
    The action plan listed possible upgrades, expansions and development at Pentoga Park, along the Heritage Trail, along the Paint River, at Camp Batawagama, at Cooks Run, at the Iron County Fairgrounds and along snowmobile/ORV trails.
    In the public hearing, Parks and Recreation Commission member Richard Sloat spoke about possible future projects. He specifically mentioned the idea of preserving and utilizing the cabin on the Cooks Run property as an all-season recreation area, an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible canoe/kayak launch along the Paint River next to the Bates-Amasa Road bridge and the development of county-owned property at that proposed launch site.
    He also offered the idea of creating a county-sponsored Youth Conservation Corps, along the lines of the original Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) that operated during the Depression.
    “Enhancing the Iron County area with unique recreation
 facilities for people with a wide range of physical abilities will be an asset to our community,” Sloat said. “Directly, it will expand the resources and quality of life for the locals. Indirectly, once vacationers learn of the opportunities in Iron County for recreation and the word spreads, increased revenue will contribute to the local economy.”
    Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Tom Clark recommended that the Board of Commissioners adopt the plan, which it did.
    In the report, the public was thanked for their contributions to the new rec plan.
    Additionally, the board approved a motion to authorize GEI Consultants to apply for a DNR grant for an ADA-accessible canoe/kayak launch (and the associated work) at Pentoga Park for a cost of up to $3,000. County Administrator Sue Clisch said there is a line item in the parks budget that will more than cover that cost, and no budget amendment was necessary.

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