I would like to commend former mayor Jim Crews, the Town Council, and the Park Board for their thoughtful deliberation on the issue of the land swap of city park land, proposed by the Capp Family, former owners of the Fort Owen Ranch. I am grateful they did not rush into a decision and took the time to listen to those in attendance at meetings that were both supportive and opposed to the proposal.
And especially, a thank you to Ed Sutherlin for his input into the history of the area, the dump and past events. And it was Ed, who came forth with a temporary solution to providing a fishing access site for the summer on city park land. In addition, he volunteered to do the work on his own time.
There were local citizens and business people who attended many winter meetings in 2016 and 2017 to voice their concerns and provide input into the many uses of our river park land and its value to our community. Those meetings were respectful and very informative for the council and the park board. They also provided a process that provided time for the council to deliberate and more thoroughly understand what we would be giving up.
Now the situation has changed, Fort Owen has a new owner who has shown interest and a cooperative attitude in helping us to establish an access site. Fish, Wildlife and Parks must surely embark on a new plan for the area and there must be a process for citizen involvement.
The future of the Stevensville River Park and the Fishing Access Site looks much brighter than it did last winter. It is my hope that with renewed emphasis on the area, more community members will voice their opinions on improvements and updates to the total area, that the Park Board will establish an overall plan for the area, and that volunteers will come forth to help.