After nearly a two month long discussion and some research on park usage, the New London Parks and Recreation Committee voted to leave the current ordinance in place that forbids hunting on city-owned property.
In March, Wes Schulke, a citizen, made a request to allow bow hunting on city-owned land behind his house west of Partridge Drive.
The land, currently set aside as a nature preserve, was purchased through the State Stewardship program nearly 20 years ago, with intentions of one day developing it into a park.
The parcel is approximately 94 acres with the majority of it in fields that are leased for agriculture.
Schulke inquired about leasing the property for bow hunting.
Park Director Chad Hoerth gave some background on the property. He referenced a 14-page management plan developed at the time of the Stewardship purchase. It included a possible open play area, shelter area, a nature trail through the wooded portion of the property and a possible play area.
“We haven’t changed the scope of that plan, we just haven’t done anything with it yet,” he said.
There was some discussion.
Alderman Rob Way said that if they allowed hunting on that property, questions would be raised about allowing it on other city owned lands that are set aside.
Alderman John Romberg said he has been an avid hunter for the past 60 years, but was concerned with allowing hunting in that area through an individual lease.
“If you allow one, how can you prevent the others?” he asked. “You can’t restrict access if you allow someone, you will have 75,” said Romberg.
Schulke inquired how it was allowed to be leased for agriculture and not hunting.
Way asked, “How would you administer this? It would become another bureaucracy?”
Hoerth said there are some restrictions on leasing stewardship lands. Agricultural is allowed, but leasing it to an individual that could restrict access to the public would not be allowed.
Mayor Gary Henke said, “Its land set aside for future use, you can go back there anytime and walk around. Much of it is wet seasonally.”
Way said perhaps it was time the city started looking and thinking about its plans for the property.
Romberg restated his position on not allowing hunting on city land, and said he felt they should keep the ordinance as is.
“I’d make a motion that we take no action to amend the current ordinances,” said Romberg.
Alderwoman Lori Dean seconded the motion and it carried 6-0.