Possible Park Expansion Could Cost People Their Homes

Posted at: 10/30/2013 10:54 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- A possible park expansion has some people concerned they could lose their property. The Root River Regional Park is just on the edge of Rochester and Stewartville, and those living next to it worry new plans could compromise their homes.

"150 years ago my great, great grandfather settled in this area and built Fuegel's Mill. My children are the 6th generation of that family settlement," said resident Joe Chase. To him, his home and the 60 acres he lives on are what identify his family. "For us tradition, history, honor, integrity, and family identity are everything to us," he said.

However, plans to expand the Root River Regional park, could compromise a good chunk of his acres. "Each acre is deep with family stories and traditions," said Chase.

Some township and county officials feel expanding the park would be good for a growing community. "One of the important fabrics of a true and strong, healthy, vigorous society is to be able to provide recreation space and green space," said Olmsted County Parks Supervisor Thomas Ryan. He showed us the rough sketch of the plan, but says it’s not an official. They're seeking community input first. "They need to be able to weigh in and they need to be able to speak of their concerns, and that's what these processes, or levels will allow," said Ryan.

We spoke with a few of Chase’s neighbors and they're actual houses fall into that generic map. "There is not one neighbor that agrees with this, in fact, a lot of them are very upset about this right now," said Chase.

A reason why Ryan says this is nowhere near complete, they are only in the beginning stages. "It takes a lot of resources, as you mentioned before, it's unsettling to people, and I have every anticipation that we'll have some resolution certainly in a matter of months," he said.

However, if it does come to resorting to residential property, Chase says he's ready to hold his ground. He told us their land was almost taken over in the 60's, but his grandmother fought for it. He promised to do the same. "I re-affirmed on her death bed that I would keep that promise," said Chase.

Ryan says they are only at stage 3 of 7 before taking any action. There will be a public meeting next Monday, Nov. 4th at 6 p.m. at the Pleasant Grove Township Town Hall. We'll continue to follow this story as it develops