Bob Costa has given careful consideration to how he wants to spend eternity, and he has come up with a plan that he presented to the Jacksonport Town Board at its monthly meeting on Aug. 30.
Costa attended the meeting to see if the town would be interested in having his 40 acres on Lost Lake Road as a park or nature preserve when he and his immediate heirs are gone.
“If I pass it on beyond my immediate heirs – that would be my daughter and son, they’re both in their 50s – god knows where it would go. I’m afraid young people would not adhere to my wishes,” he said. “So I’m looking for someone to take it after we all pass away.”
Costa said he wanted to make the offer first to the town, but would also consider giving the property to the county or the Door County Land Trust, but with the stipulation that it must become a park or nature preserve in perpetuity.
“It’s got to be a park forever and whoever takes it has to agree to that because I’m going to be buried there and I don’t want it passed on from one hand to another,” Costa said, adding that he has received county approval to build a small mausoleum on the property.
“I’m not in any hurry to get in there, either,” he added.
The area reserved for his final resting place is already serving as the cemetery for his five German shepherds, and will also accommodate a sixth German shepherd when its time comes.
“My epitaph is going to read, say I die at 85, ‘For 85 years Bob has been going to the dogs. He finally made it,’” the 78-year-old Costa said.
“It would make a nice park, at least I think so. And I would like to see something done with it,” Costa said.
Knowing that if the property is turned into a park, it will come off the town’s tax rolls, Costa suggested a couple of moneymaking ideas to help maintain the park, including building a campground on the 13 acres he currently leases to a farmer and creating a museum of farm machinery and possibly a World War II-era Soviet T-34 tank.
The tank in question is currently residing in a military museum, but Costa was the man responsible for bringing the tank to the U.S. when he wrote a letter in 1990 to then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, asking for a T-34 tank for a military history museum that Costa helped to start while working for Roundy’s in Pewaukee. Gorbachev responded and the tank arrived at the Milwaukee port on Oct. 24, 1991, with a load of tractors from St. Petersburg. People magazine did a full-page story on Costa’s effort to bring the tank to the U.S. in its Dec. 23, 1991, issue. In 2015 the tank made an appearance in Marvel Comics’ film Ant Man.
“It’s got its own history. It would draw people to it,” Costa said.
Costa added that he would like the property kept as a park and wildlife area because he’s been feeding the wild animals there since 1968.
“Right now I’ve got a raccoon who comes out to get her feed. She knows her name, Bandit,” Costa said. “I’ll see her eyes shining in the woods and I’ll say, ‘Come and get a treat, Bandit.’ She’ll come running right up and will take a marshmallow right out of my hands. She’s been there for 13 years.”
Town Supervisor Tom Wilson thanked Costa for his very generous offer and asked if the town could think about the offer.
“I’m just looking for a home after I’m gone, and I’m not in a hurry,” Costa said.
The offer was referred to the town’s Planning, Parks and Building & Grounds committees to come up with a recommendation for the town board.