Thursday, July 9, 2009

New rec area to open soon in Hawarden

HAWARDEN—N’West Iowans potentially could make use of a new Hawarden-based recreation area as soon as July 1.

L.G. Everist Inc., a Sioux Falls, SD-based construction material and rail transportation company, traded the property for the Hawarden Municipal Airport in a deal that was finalized by the Sioux County Board of Supervisors after a public hearing June 16.

Negotiations for the land swap began about two years ago.

“After we determined the public interest was there, Sioux County Conservation started putting a master plan together,” said Rob Klocke, executive director of the Sioux County Conservation Board.

The plan involved trading L.G. Everist’s South Pit property for the nearly 35 acres of airport property.

The South Pit property consists of about 300 acres of recreational land and about 100 acres of surface water. The area is located in the southwest part of Hawarden and has been closed to the public except for members of the South Pit Club for the past 10 years due to liability concerns.

City and county officials, however, wanted to develop the property for more public use.

They thought the recreation area would enhance the community better than the Hawarden Municipal Airport, located north of town, has. The airport has a 2,030-foot runway, the shortest paved landing strip in Iowa, but the property is landlocked and cannot be expanded.

The Sioux County Conservation Board enacted an agreement with L.G. Everist about a month and a half ago and began cleaning up and mowing the area.

“We’re quite a ways along, but we’re not completely there yet,” Klocke said.

He hopes to have everything in place so the area can be opened to the public soon.

“As far as opening it up for picnics, boating, fishing, hunting and nature studies, we don’t think those activities will take very long to be put in place once we get the land deeded in our name,” Klocke said. “It shouldn’t take too long to get it open. We’re still hoping for July 1.”

With the economic downturn the United States has faced over the last year, Klocke thinks the recreation area, which features three small lakes, a boat ramp and a gravel road, will be an added benefit for Sioux County.

“People are looking for places a little closer to home to go to,” he said. “This way, they won’t have to drive all the way to the Lakes or Yankton for a recreational outing.”

Klocke also thinks people from other communities will be drawn to the area.

“It should draw some people from South Dakota,” he said. “Area along the Big Sioux is a little under explored.”

Especially since Sioux County Board of Supervisors vice chairman John Deger said the area is known for its strong fishing history.

“It’s just a great place to bring your kids and grandkids for some good, clean family fun,” Deger said. “That’s what we’re looking forward to.”

While L.G. Everist has plans to develop the airport property, Deger said nothing has been done at this time.

This article appeared in the June 27, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

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