Originally created 08/08/06

Officials approve buying 164 acres



NORTH AUGUSTA - For months, city officials have been looking for suitable land to build a new park, and the search could be over.

North Augusta City Council passed a resolution by a 6-0 vote Monday authorizing the purchase of two adjoining tracts totaling about 164 acres on Five Notch Road north of Walnut Lane for future park use. Mayor Lark Jones, a North Augusta lawyer, abstained because one of the property owners is a client.

According to the resolution, the city could purchase about 120 acres from Kenneth A. Newsome for $1.2 million. The city also could buy about 44 acres off Five Notch Road from Elsie and Kenneth Wayne Black for $577,200.

"We are under contract for the properties being surveyed at this point to get the exact property lines," City Administrator Charles Martin said.

He said some of the property is in Edgefield County, so it would have to be annexed into the city.

Kelly Zier, the city attorney, said annexation would not be a problem.

"We are in Aiken and Edgefield counties already," he said. "We would not be annexing into another county. We're already there."

Robert Brooks, the Parks, Recreation & Leisure Services Department director, said about 60 acres of the properties could be developed into ball fields.

"I'm sure it would be a good investment, just having the land," Councilwoman Pat Carpenter said. She said she was concerned, though, that the land was too far from existing recreational facilities.

"It is a strain for parents to have their children in two different areas," Councilwoman Carolyn Baggott said. "But we won't be building anything on it for a while, for a long while."

The funding for the purchase and the development of the land would come from the second round of capital projects sales tax money. Mr. Martin said those funds will not be available until 2013 at the earliest.

Under the resolution, however, the city can use interim funding sources.

In other business, the city council approved an amendment to an ordinance on second reading to issue general obligation bonds of up to $4.71 million to finance a portion of the costs to build, design and equip a $19.5 million municipal center.

At a work session, the council members also decided to scale back a "Christmas on the Greeneway" project. The project featured Christmas lights and displays along the riverfront extension of the Greeneway and the portion of the Greeneway that runs from the 13th Street entrance to the Riverview Park Activities Center access.

Startup costs for the display were estimated at more than $1 million; however, the council members agreed that the city staff should investigate the cost of electrical wiring for Christmas lights along a one-mile stretch on the Savannah River.

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113, or betsy.gilliland@augustachronicle.com.