The Barton County Commission Tuesday morning approved a lease agreement with retired teacher Terry Nech of Hoisington that will allow him to develop a wildlife habitat on county-owned land in what is known as South Hoisington.
Following the 2001 tornado and flooding in that community, the county purchased three South Homestead Township tracts located in the flood plain as part of a grant program funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing. While the building restrictions on that ground are strict, such a habitat would be acceptable, County Administrator Richard Boeckman said.
This piece of ground is actually a portion of Missouri Pacific Street in the South Homestead Township west of Vine Street, which is west of U.S. 281. However, Boeckman said the strip (which is about 270 feet long and 80 feet wide) has never been developed.
“I am a long-time teacher,” Nech said. Prior to retirement, he developed 200 acres of habitat in Smith County which he used for recreational and educational purposes.
Now, retiring to Hoisington, he was looking for a project and found these tracts of land. “It looked like something an old man can handle.”
It will include native plants, a mowed pathway and benches with the potential for walking and bird watching. “What I envision is basically a site anyone could use,” he said.
He said he has several Hoisington residents who are willing to take part in the effort.
Nech will try to get some cost-share money from the state to help with the project. But, he said, if this doesn’t work, “I will take care of it out of my own pocket.”
It is a three-year lease with the option to renew. The county will not be required to maintain the land, but will maintain liability insurance on it.
Any improvements made will become the property of the county. There is no money changing hands.
Prior to taking action on Nech’s request, the commission first had to vacate the property, which it did. The county had already sought public comment on the vacation and had followed the required procedures.