- Associated Press - Monday, April 21, 2014

CHAPMAN, Neb. (AP) - Supporters have begun searching for more money to keep Bader Memorial Park in top shape now that Hamilton County has withdrawn its funding support.

The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners decided not to continue its agreement with adjacent Merrick County to support the central Nebraska park. It sits southeast of Chapman, in Merrick County.

Pat Carlson, director of Platte Peer Group, which manages the park, told The Grand Island Independent (https://bit.ly/1lu2LCL ) that receipts, donations and concessions bring in about $75,000 a year. But, she said, the park needs about $110,000 a year for operation and routine maintenance.

Local historians say Bader Park was formed when Hamilton County and a local landowner, Alfred Bader, gave 194 acres to the state to develop a recreational area. In 1973 the land was conveyed to Merrick County, which worked with Hamilton County to build it up. The park was dedicated in 1976.

Since then, the counties annually have each donated from $1,500 to $6,000 to keep the park going, Carlson said.

That ended when Hamilton County didn’t renew the agreement. At the county board’s March 31 meeting, commissioners decided to pay the $2,500 for half of a year they owed the park and walk away.

Commissioner Doug Andersen said it wasn’t fair to require Hamilton County taxpayers to support the park while residents of nearby counties enjoy it without paying extra in their county taxes.

Carlson said Platte Peer Group has about half a year of operating costs saved. Without the Hamilton County money, she said, money will be tighter, making the search for more grants and donors even more important.

“This year, that money is not going to kill us, but it will take money out of our savings,” Carlson said.

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Information from: The Grand Island Independent, https://www.theindependent.com

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