St. Charles County has added to its park property holdings in the New Melle area with the acquisition of a 153-acre tract on Foristell Road near Hwy. Z.
The tract, known as the New Melle Lakes Golf Course, has been closed since 2011 and has an old banquet center, a 29-acre lake and four one-acre lakes. County Executive Steve Ehlmann said in a news release that the county purchased the golf course for $15,000 an acre or about $2.29 million.
“We are pleased to be able to secure this land for future park use,” Ehlmann said in the release. “It enables us to expand our county parks system to provide more green space for outdoor activities, educational outreach and community events.”
The purchase brings the total of county-owned land in the New Melle area to 395 acres. The former golf course abuts several county-owned tracts – the 67-acre Sundust Park property donated by David and Mary Ann Wolk, and 175-acres of park property purchased between Foristell Road and Hwy. Z.
The land is expected to be held in reserve by the St. Charles County Parks and Recreation Department with specific plans and a timeline for development still under review.
The property was paid for from the use tax approved by county voters in 1997 dedicated for property acquisition, operations and park development. The county currently operates 12 parks and has more than 3,000 acres of parkland.
“’We pay as we go,’ Betty [Yahn-Kramer, county’s park’s director] likes to say. We don’t get into debt for a park,” explained Mary Enger, the county’s communications director. “We do them based on the revenue that we have from the parks use tax. So we do not have a timeline for that right now.”
The County Council has been considering the purchase since last year. Councilmembers toured the site last November and discussed buying the property then, but delayed a decision.
One issue was whether the county should be developing park facilities in the eastern part of the county, which has a larger population. “I think to the New Melle property is great, it’s just a question whether you want to buy more land,” Ehlmann said last November. Another issue then involved the price and Enger said the county was able to negotiate and buy the property at “market value.”
In the last few years, the city has acquired one park, opened another and is on the verge of developing still another in the eastern part of the county. The council took a look on Oct. 24 at detailed plans for developing a major portion of the 120-acre park property bordered by Pitman Hill and Kisker roads that the county bought for $6 million in 2014.
The plans call for the county to spend a little over $9 million to intensively develop about 90 acres of what was known as the former Sammelmann Farm and Homestead. If the council selects a contractor, work on park development could begin in February 2017 and be completed by the end of that year. The property is on undeveloped land in an area with extensive residential development and fewer parks than other parts of the county.
Yahn-Kramer told councilmembers that the park design is largely based on a 2014 survey of county residents, who suggested the park remain as natural as possible with hiking and biking trails ranked the highest followed by picnic areas, lakes and natural conservation areas.
Meanwhile, the county also has ownership of The Historic Daniel Boone Home at Lindenwood Park near Defiance, donated by Lindenwood University. The 80-acre College Meadows Park opened in 2015 and is adjacent to the St. Charles Community College campus in Cottleville.
Councilmembers have pressed county officials for a plan for developing the county’s remaining reserve park property. Councilman Joe Cronin [District 1] asked Yahn-Kramer at the Oct. 24 meeting for a five-year plan on county park development, which she said was forthcoming.
Other county parks now open include the St. Charles County Heritage Museum at Heritage Park in St. Peters, Louis H. Bangert Memorial Wildlife area in St. Charles, Broemmelsiek Park near O’Fallon, Hideaway Harbor Park near Portage des Sioux, Indian Camp Creek Park near Foristell, Klondike Park in Augusta, Matson Hill Park in Defiance, Quail Ridge Park in Wentzville, Towne Park north of Wentzville and the Youth Activity Park in Dardenne Prairie.