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County to purchase land

St. Joseph County’s Parks and Recreation Department is pursuing a grant that would offset the purchase cost of a 135-acre piece of land in Burr Oak Township.

Parks and Recreation Department Director John Pence said the property is on the north side of Lafayette Road, between Big Hill and Plumb School roads.

Members of the county’s board of commissioners Tuesday staged a public hearing as part of the grant-application process.

Pence said the county is applying for a property-acquisition grant from the Natural Resources Trust Fund through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. At stake is a grant in excess of $500,000 toward the acquisition of the parcel, owned by Kathleen Templene. The county’s potential 31 percent match would comprise more than $225,000.

He said possible recreational development of the property would be guided by public input. Suggestions he mentioned included parking, restrooms, septic, picnic shelters, trails for hiking, playgrounds, wildlife-habitat restoration, fishing piers and perhaps a beach.

The county will know by December if the grant is approved, Pence said.

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