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Cairo Nature Center called ‘political football’

Sep 08, 2009 8:10 pm

What sort of town does not want volunteers to create a park? Cairo, apparently. Susan Campriello in The Daily Mail reports on last Thursday's Cairo Town workshop meeting, where the Cairo Nature Center Committee met with the Town Board. The Nature Center opened two years ago, and then the town closed it for a year to argue about what sort of permit process should be instituted, eventually closing the park off to everyone except Cairo town residents who pay a $15 fee. Earlier this summer a bridge railing in the Nature Center was broken and someone left some trash in the facility, which features hiking and biking trails, picnic areas and fishing spots in a reservoir. The small bit of vandalism caused Town Board members Ray Suttmeier and Rich Lorenz to complain that Nature Center was a gigantic headache for the town. At the meeting Thursday, Cairo Nature Center Committee members Michael Esslie, Jim Little, and committee Chairman Neil Schoenfeld disagreed. “Since this place has been open it has been nothing but a political football,” he said. Some of the Nature Center volunteers have also been working to rehab the St. Edmund’s Chapel as a town facility, and Cairo Town Supervisor John Coyne used the town meeting to complain about the tone of a letter from that group, a letter bemoaning how the town government also was trying to stop that project. Suttmeier, at previous town board meetings, said he illegally visited the Nature Center without getting the proper permit. Schoenfeld, who is also working to turn former railroad tracks in the town into a nature trail, is just about ready to give up all his work to benefit the Town of Cairo, just as the Town Board seemingly wants. This Sunday he will help host an Eco-Faire in the town park.

UPDATE: The Greenville Press (no web site to link to) weighs in on the issue with the best headline ever for Cairo politics: "Another project, another roadblock." Linda L. Fenoff quotes Town Board members Rich Lorenz and Ray Suttmeier complaining after the park has been created that the location along the county's main highway, Rt. 23, is too remote.