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September 18, 2013

KITCHELL: Selling parks maybe not a great idea

(Continued)

The Ben Long Center has been the target of sales before. It was made possible with a gift to the city and the availability of the former Washington Elementary School gym. At some point, it may have to be replaced, but it is the only indoor basketball court the city owns and maintains and one of a handful of recreation facilities the city has west of Third Street. On the west side, it’s the only facility other than a park used by the Cherub League at the west end of the city.

City parks officials always have a wealth of issues to deal with from fixing a pool to building a trail system, and they usually don’t have a wealth of money to spend on what they are trying to accomplish. But the issue of selling city parks goes beyond putting up a for sale sign and closing a deal. It’s really a matter of giving up city control of prime locations that are at least dedicated to green space. On Biddle’s Island, that may not matter to the rest of the city, but it may matter to people there.

In the parks master plan process every five years, there’s a formula applied for the amount of green space, baseball fields, soccer fields, baseball parks and facilities for cities of every size. It’s time to dust off those formulas and determine if Logansport has enough of what it should have, or too much property to maintain.

With the addition of Huston Park, the city has more responsibility, but it has a responsibility to manage what has been dedicated and maintained to the park system, in most cases, for several decades.

It’s important to note that property owners who live next to parks, whether the parks are frequently used or not, often did so for a reason — it’s a pleasant place to be.

In some cases, real estate transactions include the words “buyer beware.” In selling parks, the operative phrase is “seller beware.” Selling parks is not necessarily a great idea.

Dave Kitchell is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at ptnews@pharostribune.com.

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