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Kalamazoo County looks to purchase property that’s been part of two families' names for over 50 years

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Posted at 11:52 PM, Mar 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 10:38:38-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Commissioners postpone discussion of trying to take ownership of the highly contested cottage on Prairie View County Park.

The Gourdneck Lake Association, where the home is located, is speaking out in opposition for the first time.

Fox 17'S Matt Witkos was at Tuesday's meeting to hear their thoughts on why they're against the county.

They believe the home inside the park needs to stay with the families.

Kalamazoo County Commissioners hope their latest move they can finally get the one-third of an acre property they've been waiting for for years.

"Is this greed or need. Our family believes this condemnation case is rooted in greed," cottage owner Joyce Mc Clish said.

The highly fought out family cottage on Gourdneck Lake is back in the ring.

"My grandma and grandpa may they Rest In Peace never would have wanted this to happen," cottage owner Chad Hetter said.

More than a dozen people spoke out against the commissioners' move to purchase the property.

Commissioners, ultimately siding with them and tabling the issue for another day.

"My one ask is that for the residents of gourd neck lake to hear what we want and how the money is being spent," Gourdneck Lake Association member Gary Kaylor said.

Fox 17 last talked to the owners of this cottage almost one year ago.

Some Johnson and Talanda families members want to keep and continue to make memories -- other members wish to honor their original agreement.

"The county had an agreement with the original property owners that we would have an option to purchase the property when the time was right. And we feel that that time is now," Kalamazoo County Parks Director David Rachowicz said.

Rachowicz says in 1963 the county agreed with the 5 original families to have the first option to purchase the property.

The last original owner passed away in 2019.

Since then, the county has lost out on two court cases as they try to take ownership of the property.

"We haven't lost out on it. The county's been we've been taking several steps along the way working through, you know, some litigation. This is just the next step in that process," Rachowicz said.

The county is looking to use $350,000 to finally purchase the home.

"Everything is negoitable," Rachowicz said

Negotiations might cost the county much more than $350,000.

"Even if this situation plays out the way the law allows for the government to take our property away from us there is no ethical ground this argument can stand,"

This battle still has a long way to go. The county plans to meet again on this discussion on April 5th.