The Washington County Conservation Board is exploring the idea of leaving its footprint in Kalona as they take a look at potentially getting involved with the Shiloh property.
Washington County Conservation Executive Director Zach Rozmus explained the church is downsizing and looking to sell their property to raise enough money to build a smaller church.
“Basically, what’s happening is the church itself is separating, from the local entity there in Kalona, and separating form their facility in California, and basically what happens is that the entire facility is going to cease to exist,” he said.
Rozmus explained the property is about 600 acres with lots of native species around. The plan for the 90,000 square foot building on the property is yet to be determined.
According to Rozmus, the city of Kalona is interested in working together with Conservation to get them involved in the community.
“I think Conservation’s potential involvement in this project would be more geared toward either the wetlands portion of it, or they would like to see a trail connecting the bridge to the city of Kalona,” he said. “Even if it turns into a situation where the City of Kalona turns a portion of it into a housing development, there’s still the possibility (because) we have large timber lines and 10 to 15 acres of timber and there’s no reason Conservation couldn’t manage those properties and manage them very well, in my opinion.”
Rozmus said he was excited about the potential for the project because he feels they could acquire land at minimal to no cost. Included in their potential involvement, he felt, would be expanding the existing walking trail to encourage outdoor involvement.
“It sounds like they would be interested in acquiring a new bridge if they needed it to get across the river,” he said. “They want to connect out to that area.”
Washington County Naturalist Pam Holz was excited about the opportunity, calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime chance.” She said increasing her involvement in the Mid-Prairie school district has been a goal of hers and having Conservation have land in Kalona would help immensely.
“The potential there is exciting for me,” she said.
Right now, it is unclear how exactly Conservation would be involved, but board member Bill Nickell voiced his optimism and support for the opportunity.
“It looks to me like something we ought to pursue,” he said. “If we got Kalona tied in, that could be a win-win in a lot of ways.”