Mosquito Hill buys 11 acres
No plan finalized for parcel
By Scott Bellile
Mosquito Hill Nature Center for the first time owns the entirety of the hill and plans to use newly acquired land to expand visitor opportunities.
The nature center purchased 11 acres of land from the Kamps estate, N3903 Mosquito Hill Road, on June 12.
The late Raymond and Rose Marie Kamps had lived in a four-level home on landlocked yet privately owned property within the nature center grounds for decades. They had an access easement to travel from the road to their house.
Raymond Kamps died at age 90 on Oct. 28, 2017. Rose Marie Kamps, 89, died on June 29, 2018, weeks after the property sale closed. The Kamps both resided at Living Tree Estates in Greenville at the times of their deaths.
“The Kamps family, they were pretty close with our staff out there,” Outagamie County Parks Director Loren Dieck said. “Good neighbors, good stewards of the land. We never had any issues with them as far as hunting on our property or doing things they shouldn’t or making noise, nothing like that. They were role model neighbors, and I think they truly loved living adjacent to the nature center, too.”
The Kamps’ deaths were unfortunate, Dieck said, but when the opportunity arose to purchase their property, he said Outagamie County acted because it could have been the only chance to obtain that land.
The county purchased the 11 acres for $340,000 but recouped the cost by selling 3 acres of land next to the county-owned Brewster Village skilled nursing facility in Appleton.
The Fox Valley Technical College Foundation bought the land for $365,000 on May 30, according to Kara Homan, director of Outagamie County Development and Land Services.
Dieck said the net gain of $25,000 will likely be used to demolish the Kamps’ old house because the cost to upgrade the four-level house to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act could be too high, he said.
Mosquito Hill Nature Center will determine how to utilize the 11 acres later this year when the center updates its master plan, Dieck said. Ideas discussed so far include hiking trails, mountain bike trails or primitive camping space.
Another possibility is installing a shelter, which could be used for corporate retreats and wedding receptions. Dieck said people ask to hold wedding ceremonies there “nonstop” but the nature center lacks the space. Hosting weddings could generate revenue for the nature center in a time when budgets are shrinking, he said.
During the Friends of Mosquito Hill organization’s annual meeting on July 18, Homan said the Kamps family approached the nature center about a year ago to say they were selling the land. A group from the county toured the property in October and what they saw experiencing it up close for the first time was “breathtaking,” she said.
“There was this wonderful, beautiful moat area that the family had cared for lovingly that had a gentle slope,” Homan said. “There were also portions of the property that were heavily wooded ravines similar to the other side of hill. And I kind of decided I’m going to find a way to pay for this.”
Friends of Mosquito Hill President Dave Wuebben said at the meeting that he understands how hard it can be to find the money for an unexpected purchase as the director of business services for the Hortonville Area School District. Homan and Dieck deserve credit for raising the funds by creatively working out the other land sale to the FVTC Foundation, he said.
“The way Kara had to go about finding the money to make this property acquisition just amazes me that that’s the level of which we had to go to to pull it off,” Wuebben said.
FVTC has “no immediate use planned” for the county-owned property it bought next to its Appleton campus, Mary Downs, executive director of the FVTC Foundation and community relations, said in an email to the Press Star on Friday, July 20.