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Jackson County could put green space near Cascades Park on the market

Posted at 6:23 PM, Feb 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-25 09:26:28-05

JACKSON, Mich. — The Jackson County Board of Commissioners could put green space near Cascades Park up for sale.

The land at the corner of Kibby Road and West Avenue is zoned for single family homes. It is approximately four acres with three parcels.

The county does not have a say with how it will be developed, as the land is within the city limits, but the county Board can vote to approve the sale.

“You have to follow the zoning rules of the city,” board Chairman Steve Shotwell said.

“They would like to see it be single homes, and we think that with the size of the property and everything going on, they would be very nice homes that could be developed right there in that neighborhood that would compliment everyone involved,” he said.

Not everyone is on board with putting the parcels up for sale. During public comment at a recent Board of Commissioners meeting, several residents voiced displeasure.

“I can tell you this is not unutilized property. Our community uses this green space, take their kids to play catch, throw Frisbees. This is the one shining gemstone of Jackson County where it is utilized," said Jackson resident Benjamin Whiting. "We have this great green space that we utilize and to sell it off not only is near-sighted, it would violate the public trust the Sparks Family placed in this commissioners body.”

Sparks Foundation County Park was created in the early 1930s from the vision of William Sparks. After his death in 1943, the 465-acre-park and the Cascades were given to Jackson County.

Jackson resident Mandy Wright said it should be left alone.

“That park is one of the few green spaces we have left. That grassy area is utilized by many in the community to play with their dogs, catch with their children and lounge during the fireworks,” Wright said.

The land is located adjacent to Cascades on the corner of West Avenue and Kibby Road next to Park Crest Apartments. It contains three parcels and approximately three to four acres.

Shotwell said this isn’t the first time the County has tried to sell these parcels.

“It’s been advertised two or three different times in the past and just no one has taken up the option on it. What I would recommend to people is that they look at the overall picture for the whole city and the different parks that are available nearby," Shotwell said. "We’re not selling something that’s attached to the Cascades. We’re not selling something that is underdevelopable. This is actually a piece of property that was supposed to be residential."

Commissioner Corey Kennedy says this is far from a done deal. The Board passed a motion to authorize the administrator to list it to get an idea of its value and the level of interest in it.

The Board of Commissioners will have the final vote on the sale. The money from a sale would go into the county’s general fund.

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