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County park on site of former Sammelmann farm to remain natural

St. Charles County wants a new park at Pitman Hill and Kisker roads to remain as natural as possible – at least that’s the wish of residents who replied to a recent survey.

Last summer, the county announced that it had acquired the property, known as the former Sammelmann farm, a 116-acre site, at a cost of $6 million.  The cost of the property and its development as a park is being paid out the county’s Park Fund, which is funded by a dedicated tax.

After the acquisition, the county conducted a survey asking for citizen input. In all, 3,837 surveys were submitted.

“The overwhelming response was for low cost, natural and day use amenities,” according to a summary of the new park survey results posted on the county’s Parks and Recreation Department web page. “By a large number, hiking and biking trails ranked as the most important item to have in the new park.”

Respondents also ranked, in order of importance, playgrounds, picnic shelters, wetlands and natural conservation areas. Activities ranked as not as important were off-leash areas for dogs, recreational sports facilities, disc golf courses, concession stands and meeting or banquet facilities.

The low ranking of meeting and banquet facilities drew the interest of County Executive Steve Ehlmann, when he discussed the park at a County Council work session on Dec. 1.  Ehlmann said he was disappointed that respondents weren’t enthused about a lodge and noted that opinions might change if people saw the meeting and lodge facility at the county’s Quail Ridge County Park near Wentzville.

Council Chairman Mike Klinghammer (District 6) agreed.

“It’s extraordinary to have that (a lodge) in a county park,” Klinghammer said. “To me, lodges make a lot more sense from an active use standpoint, rather than restoring old houses.”

Ehlmann said the county needs to begin developing plans for the park this winter – plans that will require approval by the council.

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