Committee approves funds for land purchase to develop park

Published 5:12 pm Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Carter County could soon begin work on a partnership with the City of Elizabethton to create a new public park.

On Monday evening, the Carter County Budget Committee approved the allocation of $50,000 to purchase a 9.3 acre tract of land near the intersection of Mary Patton Highway and the old Gap Creek Road for development into a park. The Carter County Parks and Recreation Committee is allocating $6,000 from its current funds toward the purchase of the property. The Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Department has pledged $4,000 toward the purchase of the property, but that allocation must be approved by the Elizabethton City Council before it is official. The remaining $40,000 for the purchase will come from the county’s reserve fund balance.

Carter County Planning Director Chris Schuettler presented the request to the Budget Committee Monday evening. Schuettler said the property had been appraised by Tammy Jones of Randall Birchfield Realty at a value of $112,000. One of the two property owners is donating his share of the property for a tax credit, Schuettler said. The other property owner is asking for a total of $50,000 for his share.

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However, Schuettler said, the county needs to move on the offer quickly.

“We’re kind of on a time crunch,” Schuettler told the Committee.

Because of the time-sensitive nature of the deal, Schuettler said he recommends the county proceed with the purchase without waiting for the funds to be approved by City Council. Then, if Council does approve the allocation, the county can use that money to reimburse itself the $4,000, Schuettler said.

Once developed, the park will include two ball fields, a dog park, environmental trails, and other activities according to Schuettler.

Currently, Schuettler said he and Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Director Mike Mains are working on developing an agreement between the county and city regarding the park. The current plan will be for the county to handle development of the park and then once completed, the city would take over maintaining the park.

Already the county has received a pledge for a $10,000 “in kind” donation of labor and services from Summers Taylor Inc. to go toward development of the park.

Members of the Budget Committee unanimously approved the request for the funds. The request will no go before the full County Commission on Dec. 11 for final approval.