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Recreation land deal struck

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AIKEN - Coveted recreation space in Aiken County, which some feared would be sold to developers and lost, might be safe after all.

After freezing negotiations with the Aiken County Council in recent weeks, the Savannah River Site Operations Recreation Association board announced Thursday that it had struck a tentative deal with county officials.

"An agreement in principle has been reached for the transfer of the ORA Recreation Site to Aiken County," the board stated in an e-mail message that was sent to SRS employees.

Details of the sale were not released Thursday. The county originally offered the board more than $1 million for the 210-acre site off Boyd Pond Road, near the city of Aiken, but submitted a new proposal Wednesday.

"We've had very fruitful negotiations with the ORA board," county Councilman Scott Singer said.

He said the county's attorney advised him not to discuss details of the transaction until they'd been finalized. The county council also must hold a public hearing on the sale.

The ORA purchased its recreation site in 1984 to provide a place for SRS employees, in addition to a limited number of others, to enjoy the outdoors and related activities. Board members have discussed selling the spot, which includes recreation fields, a pond and a nine-hole golf course, since last year.

When negotiations stalled with the county and the board accepted bids from private interests, some SRS employees said they wanted the recreation park preserved, even though its use has steadily declined.

Several private bids were submitted for the real estate, which is located in a fast-growing part of the county where land is being bought for residential and equestrian uses.

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com.

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