Clayton includes $1.2M land purchase in budget

ndunn@newsobserver.comJune 6, 2014 

Town leaders on Monday moved a step closer to buying 67 acres for a park in southeast Clayton.

The Town Council included the estimated $1.2 million purchase in the coming year’s budget. A formal vote on the 2014-15 spending plan is scheduled for June 16.

The land, located off of Little Creek Church Road near Clayton Evergreen Nursery, would add to a growing inventory of land the town wants to use for parks.

By this fall, taxpayers could own nearly 200 acres of untouched land in northeast and southeast Clayton. The inventory includes the Little Creek Church Road property and two adjoining parcels on Covered Bridge Road. The town owns one 80-acre tract on Covered Bridge and is waiting to buy another 39 acres, pending an environmental agreement with the state.

Clayton is working with a nonprofit to buy the 67 acres on Little Creek Church Road. Town Manager Steve Biggs said the nonprofit, which the town has yet to name, specializes in preserving open spaces in urban areas.

Deed records show the land is part of a 113-acre tract owned by the Devra S. Massey Trust. The proposed purchase price equates to about $18,000 an acre.

Biggs has hinted the town would use bond dollars to develop both the Covered Bridge and Little Creek Church parks. Clayton Mayor Jody McLeod called the purchase of the 67 acres a “true, solid investment.”

“I get that we have a good amount of park land that we would like to be developed to the fullest extent,” McLeod said. “I think we need to take a step toward that goal, and if we would pursue a bond in the next few months, we need to make this investment.”

Clayton has used bonds to fund recreation projects in the past. In 2008, voters agreed to borrow $4 million to purchase the 80 acres on Covered Bridge Road and to develop the 66-acre East Clayton Community Park.

The town is considering taking $1.2 million from savings to buy the land in southeast Clayton.

The park-land purchase would shrink Clayton’s available savings from $5.9 million to $4.7 million, or from 30 percent to 24 percent of town spending. The Clayton Town Council agreed years ago to maintain an available fund balance equal to at least 20 percent of town expenditures.

A study published last year by Sage Design said the south side of town is ripe for parks and recreation development. That study, coupled with town surveys and the 2008 recreation bond, have convinced most town leaders that Clayton needs more park space.

Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104

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