Townline Lake Park group commits to keeping park open, improved
By Eileen Persike
“We use it; we don’t want to lose it,” is the mantra members of the Save Townline Lake Park group repeated at an Oneida County Board committee meeting last week. The group, formed recently after learning of Oneida County’s interest in selling the park, organized opposition to the sale and already has preliminary plans to work with the county to keep the park open to the public.
The Forestry, Land and Recreation Committee last week tabled a resolution that would have directed the county to apply to the DNR to remove the park from County Forest Special Use, with the intent of selling an 8.4-acre parcel. Some two dozen citizens spoke at the committee meeting against such a move. Among them was David Walters, a life-long park user who began a petition last summer to save the park after noticing a large number of people fishing and picnicking and a lack of maintenance on the grounds. He contacted Forestry Director Paul Fiene.
“He informed me that the county had already voted to sell the park…and that he had inherited this task from the previous forestry administration and that was why the sale hadn’t been carried out,” Walters said after the meeting. “At that time I informed him of my intention to oppose the sale and organized a petition to draw attention to the subject. The petition gained 1,300 signatures and was the majority of the community’s first time hearing about the proposed sale.”
John and Tracy Beckman and their children are the second and third generations of Beckmans to live on Townline Lake. And they are determined to keep the park open.
“I started coming here when I met John in the late 80s,” Tracy said. “I remember the peacefulness of the lake and the loons. Then after we had kids, spending time here with their grandparents, we saw our kids get to do the same things we grew up doing. It was full circle and became so special.”
Getting the resolution tabled is a victory for the group, which has been in existence for only a few months. Organizers were pleased with the outcome.
“In this polarized world, it is a thing of beauty when caring, energized and committed people come together to effect change,” Tracy Beckman said. “We intend to give the committee everything they’re looking for in the way of commitment to keeping and restoring the park.”
Walters said he felt relief after working to draw attention to the subject and to get the community involved. At one point, Walters said, there were more than 40 people who called into the meeting to speak via Zoom.
“Between that and the in-person presence, the board could no longer ignore the community’s resistance to the sale and seemed to have accepted that the town will fight to the end for this park.”
The group’s plans include a detailed park maintenance plan and suggested improvements. Some potential improvements include a silent trail system, bog walk, outdoor fitness equipment, ATV trail stop, ADA compliant fishing pier, habitat viewing spaces, bird watching trails, and a disc golf course. Both plans include group volunteers and forestry department staff working together to “come up with a realistic set of short-term and long-term improvements.” Walters said he is optimistic the park will be restored and improved, adding, “We hope to present more concrete plans at the May meeting.”
With everything going on in national politics, Walters said people fail to see the difference they can make in their own backyard.
“When we can come together as a community and fight for our land and resources we can make a noticeable impact in the world around us, in our own backyards,” he said. “This has been an eye opening experience and has given all of us involved a deeper appreciation of what we can do together.”
Committee votes to cease maintenance of park and make it a green space.
DNR approves removing obsolete amenities and close second parking lot to vehicle traffic.
Committee discusses purchase of Enterprise property and use sale of TLLP to offset purchase cost.
Jan. 6, 2021
Committee hears update on TLLP from Forestry Director Paul Fiene. Citizens speak in opposition to closing the park.
Jan. 25, 2021
Jack Sorensen pens a letter to DNR Public Lands Specialist Dan Brown stating the county’s intention of submitting an application to withdraw from the County Forest Special Use a portion of Townline Park.
Citizens speak in opposition to the sale of Townline Lake Park (TLLP). Oneida County Forestry, Land and Recreation Committee tables until May a resolution that could lead to the sale of the park.