Oil drilling survey planned for Kalamazoo County Park

The proposal would allow a gas and oil company to test whether lateral drilling operation would be feasible in the park, but there's some concern over environmental impact.

For the first time, a Kalamazoo County park could be used for oil exploration, but this proposal is concerning to some.

Many in favor say drilling here would give the county a nice revenue boost, but many locals in the town of Scotts don't want anything in like this in their backyard.

Each of the 110 acres that make up Scotts Mill County Park is near and dear to many who live near it.

“They do antique tractor shows and stuff out there and that’s where they do their antique plowing,” Andrew Harrington, resident of Scotts, said. “There’s a lot of community stuff in that park.”

“Kids play around there. I had a daughter a year ago and I would like her to play around there,” Coral Walton of Scotts said.

On Thursday, the Kalamazoo County Parks Commission voted 6-2 to approve a measure to allow oil drillers to conduct surveys in Scotts Mill County Park.

“It's not necessary that we do this, it's just an opportunity." These kinds of experiences and opportunities don't happen everyday," said Patricia Crowley, member of the Kalamazoo County Parks Commission.

Crowley says oil drilling would be relatively non-intrusive with no impact to the environment, and the county could stand to benefit financially.

“A lot of the property they own, they've owned for years and is undeveloped,” Robyn Maxson of Scotts said. “If they want to find energy sources there, I'm fine.”

The process would include lateral drilling 3,000 feet beneath the ground.

Wolverine Gas and Oil was granted operates several drilling wells in the area, which for some are hard to live near.

“Walk outside, it makes your stomach turn, the smell, it stinks” Harrington said.

Kalamazoo County Parks Commission member Kevin Wordelman voted no to the plan. In a Facebook post, Wordelman said he opposes "any drilling, surveying or other activities that promote extraction of land from county property."

Wordleman said the county administration is investigating the matter and whether the Kalamazoo County Parks Commission has the authority to go forward with the plan.

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