HOBART | The chairman of Friends of Robinson Lake considers the Hobart Marsh area an "oasis of nature."
Loy Roberson was one of several residents who spoke at a recent final public hearing on the proposed Hobart Marsh Plan.
"I think this is a great plan for the west end of the city and for recreation as a whole. It will keep the property values up," Roberson said.
City Councilman John Brezik, D-5th, agreed.
"This is a wonderful start," he said.
The Hobart Marsh Plan, which will encompass 1,000 acres of park and wetlands on the west side, could include Robinson Lake Park as its hub, City Planner A. J. Bytnar said.
Bytnar said comments made at the public hearing will be passed along to consultants, with a final plan voted on during the January Plan Commission meeting.
City officials earlier this spring held a three-day planning session led by Kenneth Peregon, a landscape architect with OCBA of Kalamazoo, Mich.
The Michigan consulting company is being paid through a $25,000 grant the city received, Bytnar said.
City Councilman P. Lino Maggio, D-3rd, who also spoke at the public hearing, called the marsh plan "the ticket to get people to the city's west side."
"Our young people will be so lucky to have this plan," Maggio said.
Resident Larry Brown, who has often been at odds with Friends of Robinson Lake, said he'd like to see the park developed with the possible additions of batting cages, miniature golf and a boardwalk concession.
"It's a gem that could be used for recreational use for every family in Hobart if developed," Brown said.
Bytnar said the proposed Hobart Marsh Plan calls for corridors for activity, including biking and hiking trails, trail heads and markers, and a connection between the marsh property and nearby residential areas.
Robinson Lake, at the center of Hobart Marsh, could act as a hub for the various properties involved.
"The park, if used in a more robust fashion, may need to be improved," Bytnar said.
Other input, some of which was introduced at planning meetings last spring, includes branding or using signs to help the public find the Hobart Marsh and having interpretive or educational signs tell its environmental story.