A Baldwin City Council candidate has collected more than 200 signatures on a petition to allow residents to decide how to proceed with a proposed combination business-recreation park.
"So far it's coming along nicely. We have had very few refusals and several signatures," Ken Hayes said. "It's been extremely positive."
Hayes, the owner of Cornerstone Construction in Lawrence, spent more than four hours Saturday at the Baldwin post office and going door-to-door asking residents to join his fight against the park.
"We plan on presenting the petition to the city council," Hayes said. "In essence, the petition asks the council to take the action of putting the decision of whether to purchase the ground or not on the ballot of April 3."
Since the summer, Baldwin officials have discussed building a business park and playing fields on 160 acres along Lawrence Street and North 200 Road, on the south edge of town. The land, owned by Baldwin resident Jim Faulkner, would cost $590,000.
Critics of the proposal believe the recreation fields should be closer to the city center, and a business area should be along U.S. Highway 56. The city is not required to allow a public vote on such spending issues.
"The decision to purchase this large a piece of ground is a large one for a community our size," Hayes said. "The response from the population is that they should all be allowed to be involved in the city's future. They would like it to be a decision of the masses, not a decision of the few."
Hayes has been so moved by the controversy that he decided to vie for one of four seats up for re-election in April.