COUNTY NEWS: Deer Run Park land purchase, Helmsburg economic development

County OK’s land purchase to expand Deer Run Park

Deer Run Park is growing by six acres.

The Brown County Council voted last week to spend $23,000 to help County Parks and Recreation buy land adjoining the northwest edge of the county park, off Helmsburg Road.

The total cost of the purchase is $45,000, plus costs for closing on the sale, said parks and rec Director Mark Shields. Parks and rec will also commit $23,000 toward the purchase.

Shields said various ideas have been offered for the piece of land, which touches McLary Road and is about two-thirds in the floodplain.

Ideas have included a dog park, a pump track for bicycles with obstacles and terrain, and a skateboard park, he said. If done right, Shields said it’s possible several ideas could be incorporated into the same area.

Shields said the county buying the property — which is wedge-shaped and cuts into the park on the west side — prevents it from being bought by someone else and used in a way that is undesirable to the park experience.

The disc golf course at the park takes a jog around the southeast corner of this parcel.

There is also a barn on the property which Shields estimated to be five to 10 years old and in good condition. Shields said they expect to use the building for storage.

Helmsburg moving forward on economic development

At a Jan. 11 meeting at Brown County Community Church, residents and business owners from Helmsburg met with the Brown County Redevelopment Commission to discuss how to put ideas into action.

Six residents and business owners volunteered to form a committee to try to further organize local participation: Melanie Pool of Bill Pool and Sons Sawmill, Leonard Richey of the Helmsburg General Store, Cindy Steele of Our Brown County magazine, and Harrietta Weddle, the former Helmsburg postmaster. Local residents Gary Link and Denise Broussard also volunteered, and Steele offered to approach Tracy Johnson, who operates Helmsburg Laundry, to serve as a seventh member of the committee.

The group could work on tasks such as checking that county property records for Helmsburg are accurate.

RDC President Dave Redding told the group that there is some potential for the RDC to buy derelict and abandoned properties in order to help rehabilitate the town. However, community members need to first help to define an area for economic development — since Helmsburg is unincorporated — and ensure that county property records are up to date.

RDC member Bruce Gould also said the group could approach the Area Plan Commission about having zoning regulations specific to Helmsburg — which is currently under the same rules as the rest of the county — that would allow it to function more like a town.

The next meeting has been set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22 at Brown County Community Church in Helmsburg.