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Members of the Caledonia Parks and Recreation Commission believe that the Nicholson Wildlife Area, 9855 West 5 Mile Road, is probably bigger than they initially thought, a lot bigger.

The commission recently had what they thought was Nicholson Wildlife surveyed, but then they discovered two plat maps — one from 1977 and one from 2004 — which showed the wildlife refuge was actually 122 acres. The area they had surveyed was probably about one-third of that, said Scott Warner, president of the commission.

“The no trespassing signs were in the area where the first parcel joined up with the second and people would walk through there anyway,” Warner said. “We want to know what happened to that other area.”

The village had the land surveyed because a nearby farmer had posted no trespassing signs and it wasn’t clear on who owned what. But they realized what was surveyed — and what they initially thought were the boundaries of the park — only represented about a third of what the area actually is.

“It’s supposed to be the largest park in Caledonia at 122 acres, but the way we had it surveyed, there’s no way it’s 122 acres,” said Sue Schuit, a Caledonia resident who has applied to join the Parks and Recreation Commission.

The first parcel includes the narrow pathway that juts south of 5 Mile Road. That’s the area that the commission though was Nicholson Wildlife. But the plat map showed a second parcel that is connected to the first parcel. It’s the broader area that has wetlands, and a large open area.

While Park Commission members may not have known how big the park was, other groups did know. Schuit pointed out that members of the Hoy Audubon likely added several birdhouses on the property. Other groups have also been actively upgrading the wildlife refuge by adding a boardwalk and signage.

Still, plat maps show who owns what on a map, but a survey needs to be done on the second parcel to actually physically mark the property boundaries correctly, said Mark Janiuk, village administrator.

Village trustee and park commission member Jim Dobbs said if there’s a need to defend the village’s controlling interest in the property, then they needed to have a second survey done outlining the boundaries of the second parcel.

Dobbs made a motion to explore how much a second survey would cost and the park commission passed it unanimously.

“It’s a global Caledonia issue,” he said. “If we run short of funds, we might be able to find the money elsewhere in the Village budget.”


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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.