Protecting a natural legacy
For the public good
|City lets property option on land near woods expire|
October 29, 2004 Eden Prairie News
Eden Prairie’s 195-day option to buy 4.04 acres of land next to
Birch Island Woods expired on Oct. 19. During its meeting on the same
day, the City Council agreed with a staff recommendation not to continue
the option for another year. The owners of the property, two factions
of the Picha family, were willing to extend the option for one year at
a cost of $10,000 for the option and an increase in the property price
from $800,000 to $850,000. The Picha families are also agreeable to sell
the property to the city for $800,000 if it were to enter into a contract
for deed before the end of the year.
Jeff Strate, co-leader of the Friends of Birch Island Woods, remains optimistic, though. Strate has said the property is not only necessary to complete the conservation area and protect its environmental integrity, it also will ensure a much larger cluster of environmental, scenic and recreational resources. That includes the Picha Heritage Farm, which sits across Birch Island Road from the four acres and is owned by Terry Picha. “Sure we’re worried but we’re going to save that property,” he said Tuesday.According to Strate, there are still possibilities for getting public dollars to help pay for it. He thinks the main source could still come from a future parks referendum. Strate said he has been told by city officials that they would seriously consider placing a revised referendum on the ballot next November if the school referendum passes next week. Strate is confident the land will still be on the market then. He said one faction of the family, which includes Terry Picha, is “determined not to let it be developed.”
A second possibility, albeit Strate admits a “longshot,”
could be the city’s matching grant proposal being revisited if Gov.
Pawlenty calls a special legislative session sometime after the election.
Strate hopes to have the group’s fundraising efforts going strong
soon. He said they are almost ready to hire a professional firm to help
with raising money. The group’s first fundraising effort for the
woods since the option expired will be Friday’s free Haunted Woods
Walk through Birch Island Woods starting at 6:30 p.m. During the event,
“Keep it Going! Keep it Growing!” buttons will be for sale
for the first time for $5 each. The buttons will be sold over the next
year with proceeds helping the group with conservation projects, including
the purchase of the four acres. “We’re all on board on this
thing and I’m going to imagine the private sector is going to come
up with quite a bit of money to save this,” he said.
Ssudak@swpub.com is Stuart Sudak’s e-mail address. He also can
be reached at 345-6474.
Sponsored by The Friends of Birch Island Woods. Copyright © 2000. All rights reserved.