Land use discussed in Prairie Township

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By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

Officials recently held a special meeting to discuss a strategic plan related to future Prairie Township Landbank properties.

Prairie Township Administrator James Jewell said while there was no audience participation during the discussion, the goal of the meeting was to create a rough draft outline which will eventually be presented to the trustees for a decision.

“There are two types of property ownership,” Jewell said. “The Prairie Township Land Bank and land owned by Prairie Township, which includes the cemeteries, department buildings, parks and etc.”

Jewell said properties that were donated by Larry Clarke will be put into the trustees’ name and that there is property on Hubbard Road, conservation land on Broad Street, land by the fire house and 10 acres by the railroad tracks on Hubbard. He added that the objective of the strategic planning is to come up with the right protocol for land use including ownership, mowing, revenue generating, and best use of the land for the township.

Officials discussed the need for appraisals on some of the properties to understand what the fair market value is. They also discussed possible deed restrictions on some of the properties related to water flow that needs to be maintained, issues with potentially selling some of the properties due to no water and sewer hookups, and lack of access to some of the properties due to no roads.

Ideas for how to use the properties were also discussed including creating a community garden or sand lot, as well as creating a privacy sound wall and more green space, such as nature trails. Leaders also discussed the need for a new cemetery in the township.

“A cemetery is needed, but 20 to 30 acres is needed for this,” said Prairie Township trustee Rod Pritchard. “A parcel on Murnan Road could be a possibility for the future. The land is land-locked behind Alton Cemetery and the Cole Road property.”

Jewell said that there also is 12 acres directly behind the current Alton Cemetery to extend it. The Western Conservancy Group and local farm could be for future potential land acquisition for cemetery use.

The trustees agreed that cemetery land must be a priority. Next steps for the strategic plan will be a draft of procedure, then the trustees need to evaluate the property up front. Once this is put together, the township will have the law director review it for legal compliance.

After the special meeting, the board discussed the need for a new air compressor, fill station, and cascade system from Breathing Air Systems, at a cost of $42,291.

“We utilize this system to fill the air bottles we wear on our backs when entering hazardous atmospheres,” said Prairie Township Fire Chief Allen Scott. “The current system is more than 32 years old, does not meet safety standards, and it will soon be unserviceable.”

Scott also asked the board to approve the purchase of four McGrath Advanced Airway devices along with the associated accessories from Stryker, at a cost not to exceed $11,000.

“These devices are used to place endotracheal tubes into the airways of patients who are not breathing,” Scott said. “These devices will allow our medics to gain access to difficult pediatric airways, a procedure we currently do not have. They also do not require the use of a laptop computer, as our current devices do.”

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