Posted at: 11/04/2013 10:57 PM
By: Steph Crock

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Concerned Residents Pack Root River Regional Park Meeting

(ABC 6 News) -- Residents near the Root River Regional Park reached out to us last week, fearing they could lose their homes for a park expansion project. Monday, they were able to tell county and township officials how they feel about their proposal.

"We've recently remodeled our house and made it into our dream home and planned to live there a long time. Then we get this surprise letter in the mail three weeks ago," said concerned resident Eric Reiland. He was one of dozens to file in the town hall doors dressed in red. Those opposed planned to wear the color to show county and township officials how many people are against this. "We're very angry about this," said Reiland.

One of the biggest concerns brought to the table Monday, was that residents say they just found out about this. Reiland also tells us emails they've gotten from county officials haven’t been very clear. "They wrote back saying that this isn't an emanate domain process but if the approved mapping goes through, we will have sanctions on our properties, so we can’t build buildings, we can’t do remodel projects without the first right of the county to buy out our properties," said Reiland.

However, as we’ve reported before, this map is not official yet. "This is the third point of a seven point process and that's the most important thing, that everybody hears what exactly this process is about," said Olmsted County Parks Supervisor Thomas Ryan.

This meeting is intended to open up that conversation before any decisions are made. "Once we find out what's on everybody's mind, then our leadership will have to make some decisions about whether they want to continue this process as is, or make adjustments, and it's too early to tell that," said Ryan.

Even so, the crowd there Monday night wanted it to be clear, they don’t want this. "We were told our voices will be heard, and we're hoping that they're good for their word," said Reiland.

If you look at the next step in the process, it's the ordinance adoption, but we're told that isn’t set in stone. If they do make adjustments to the map or decide to throw it out altogether that point would be mute. We'll continue to follow this story as it develops.