After several months of discussion, the Hill County Park Board voted Monday to prohibit Beaver Creek Park cabin owners from pouring concrete at their cabin sites.
The board voted, with member Mel Gomke the only dissenter, to limit use of concrete at cabin sites in the future to footings on pilings for cabins.
The board also agreed that before anyone makes improvements to their cabin site, they should talk to park Superintendent Chad Edgar, who could bring the changes to the board if he believes that is necessary.
The topic rose at several of the the last meetings of the board, with board members saying some cabin owners were pouring extensive amounts of concrete for additions like sidewalks and patios in violation of the park’s intent to maintain a rustic, rural setting.
“We need to make a decision on how much, what kind, of concrete is allowable on the park, ” board Chair Steve Mariani said at the start of the discussion.
Gomke replied that the board needs to update its regulations on concrete in the cabin site lease agreements. People have poured concrete slabs at their cabin sites, and people are asking him why some are allowed and others are not, he said.
“I want to see what we’re going to do (with the existing concrete) before I jump on board with this, ” he said after casting the sole vote against the motion.
Board member Robbie Lucke, who spoke strongly against concrete in the park at the September board meeting, made the motion to prohibit new pouring of cement except for footings on pilings as allowed in the park’s lease agreements. That agreement already prohibits pouring concrete foundations for the cabins.
Mariani said during the discussion that, at this point, he doesn’t want to try to force cabin owners to tear up existing concrete, but he wants to make sure no more is poured.
“Lots of people have it, ” he said. “I don’t know how we can actually say, ‘You have to tear it up, ’ but we can do something about today, going forward, and that’s what we’ve kind of got to do. ”
Cabin owner Lynn Heggen also asked what would be done with existing concrete additions.
“I don’t have it, so it doesn’t bother me one way or another, but what are you going to do with the ones that have it, then sell it? ” he asked.
“I don’t think we know that yet, ” Lucke replied. “We’re trying to take it one step at a time. …. We think that there could be more of (pouring concrete) happening at any time now, so we’ve got to say, ‘No more. ’”
Mariani said on the board’s cabin inspection tour last month he saw many cabin improvements using gravel, or using landscaping blocks to make sidewalks, and so on. That kind of improvement meets the intent of keeping the park rural and rustic, he said.
Large concrete slabs can be “like an eye-sore, ” Mariani said.
Board member Mike Wendland, chair of the Hill County Commission, said the board needs to make it clear that, while people own their cabins, the county owns the land on which they sit.
“You’re just leasing the space, ” he said. “You don’t own the space you’re sitting your cabin on. ”
He added that the board could order people to remove concrete — even evict them from the space and order then to clean it up — but as more additions are made, that becomes more difficult.
“As we transfer cabins more and more, we lose that, ” Wendland said. “We just lose control here, and I would be in favor of saying no concrete. ”
Lucke agreed that, at this point, the board should not take action on existing concrete.
“We’ve got to take it one step at a time. … We’ve got to, first of all, say no concrete from this point and time on, then we can go further if we need to or … if we desire to, ” Lucke said.
“That’s a big bag of worms, what happens to those that have it now, and I don’t know that any of us are willing to put that through any kind of a ringer … but I am prepared to say, ‘No more, ’” he added.