Spring Lake Nature Park in Streator reopens; city seeks property survey

City manager said city is committed to keeping park access open

The entrance to Spring Lake Nature Park in Streator is open as of Tuesday afternoon after barriers were put up by a neighbor in an ongoing property dispute.

Streator City Manager David Plyman said he asked public works staff Monday to remove a gate blocking the entrance at 1389 E 1569th Road that was put up by a neighbor who says he owns the land, and then Plyman requested staff remove an orange snow fence that was erected by the same neighbor after the gate was removed.

Mike Armstrong maintains he owns property that includes the Spring Lake entrance, but he declined to comment when he was contacted by The Times at the advice of his attorney, saying it is a legal matter.

Plyman said the city will continue to remove any barriers to the entrance until a court order is issued, believing Armstrong has not provided sufficient evidence he owns the disputed land.

In order to settle the property dispute, Plyman said the city has ordered a property survey that is being conducted this week. Plyman said the survey could take days or weeks, depending on how much research surveyors have to do.

Plyman said he remains in communication with Armstrong’s attorney.

The land owner has had prior disputes with the previous Streator city manager over land near Spring Lake and posted “no trespassing signs” along this strip of property, Plyman said.

“There’s a history there, and this has gone on long enough,” Plyman said. “Hopefully a survey crew can give us answers.”

Plyman said Spring Lake was donated to the city by ComEd “decades ago.” The city manager said the road to the park’s entrance was relocated some years ago, but he believes the park’s entrance does not cross property owned by Armstrong. Plyman said it is not likely the county would deed property without access rights.

Either way, Plyman said he will work toward a solution that keeps Spring Lake open to the public.

“The city is dedicated to keeping the park open for public use,” Plyman said. “We will utilize any legal authority to accomplish that goal.”

Derek Barichello

Derek is a Streator High and University of Illinois graduate. He worked at the Albany-Herald in Albany, Ga., and for Sauk Valley Media in Sterling, before returning to his hometown paper. He's now news editor for both the NewsTribune and The Times.