Several years ago, Park Commission President Greg Anglemeyer was approached by parks supporter Nancy Lind with the question, “Is there a way to leave property to parks and have the district keep it in its natural state?"
Not really. Land deeded to the district might not be used for athletic fields but its use would depend on the needs of the community.
There must be a way, thought Anglemeyer. Research showed that other districts used a foundation that could take title and hold the land as a public trust. So he and I (being the vice-president) recruited Mike Hays and asked him to figure out a way.
Thus was the Key Peninsula Parks and Recreation Foundation born.
After much research, Hays, the foundation's first president, affiliated the foundation with the National Land Trust Alliance and saw to it that its charter met all the qualifications required by the alliance.
Now an organization existed that could do exactly what Lind had asked. Property could be donated to the foundation and held in perpetuity as a nature preserve. No park district official or employee has a foundation vote. It is a totally independent organization.
Sadly, following Lind’s death, other arrangements for her property prevented its donation to the foundation. But she is fully deserving of credit for instigating the actions that brought the foundation into existence. And today, another property owner who wishes to remain anonymous has approached the foundation about preserving his property, just as Nancy Lind had envisioned.
Hays retired from the presidency when he moved away from the Key Peninsula. Today, the seven-person, volunteer board is headed by Taylor Bay resident Susan Quigley.
The foundation exists to help the park district and to aid local citizens who want to preserve their land. Donated foundation money most often is used to provide 50 percent scholarships for Key Pen kids whose families can't afford fees for parks activities.
The foundation also raised money to help build the picnic shelter at the Key Peninsula Civic Center. But wait, there's a much bigger opportunity just ahead. The district sought and got a substantial grant to help purchase the 39-acre property that will become Gateway Park and is seeking an additional grant to expand that park.
The district, following several public meetings created and approved a master plan for improving the Gateway property, which includes parking, restrooms, a trailhead to the 360 trails, an equestrian arena, a substantial children's playground, and on the additional property now being sought, two lighted soccer or other general-use fields.
The foundation has been asked to embark on a major fundraising campaign to help pay for those improvements.
Board members include Susan Quigley, Rob Home, Rosie Rosenbach, Maureen Reilly, Mike Hays and Susan Coughlin. The board presently has a vacancy likely to be filled by this writer, Bill Trandum. The charter allows for nine board members so the foundation earnestly seeks volunteers who feel called to help. Its website includes a link for volunteering, or contact Scott Gallacher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Trandum is a guest columnist for the Key Peninsula News and is just finishing seven years as a KeyPenParks commissioner, six as vice-president and chairman of Land and Improvements, and one as president of the commission. He has attended every meeting ever held by the Foundation as a nonvoting observer.
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