The Council agreed to the purchase in a 6-0 vote.
Councilman Andy Morris abstained from voting because the real estate agent, Nancy Dorsey, is his sister.
Councilman Johnny Sinclair, who chairs the Council’s parks committee, said he often receives calls from residents requesting the city build a park in their neighborhood.
“Some mothers that I know said, ‘we would like you to come over and walk with us from our houses all the way across to Lewis Park, and you have to cross Church and Cherokee to do that,” Sinclair said. “They said, ‘we want you to see what it’s like to cross Church and Cherokee with a baby stroller.’ So I wasn’t 30 seconds into our visit when I said, ‘I get the message, it’s terrifying.’”
Sinclair, himself a real estate agent, later toured the Chicopee Drive property in question.
“It’s just a huge piece of property with just gorgeous trees, gorgeous, and it just clicked in my head, and it was like God spoke to me and said, ‘Johnny, this is the perfect park,’” he said.
The city’s parks director, Rich Buss, said the city purchased two lots, 298 and 302 Chicopee Drive, totaling 1.9 acres. The property was owned by the late Carolyn Carr Riddle, according to tax records. The contract was signed by Nancy Riddle Martin as executor of the estate, Buss said.
“The land was a residential property with a home on the larger parcel. The rear of the lot and the adjacent property at 302 Chicopee is nicely wooded,” Buss said.
Sinclair said the city doesn’t need the home, which he described as a four-bedroom, two-story Cape Cod-stylehouse.
“I would imagine that the house will either be razed or moved,” Sinclair said. “I would like for the City Council to offer to sell it to some one who would move it or maybe even give it away. It’s a very nice old house from the 19-probably-40s, so it’s not particularly historic, but it has a good history to it.”
Sinclair says what becomes of the park will be up to the community.
“When people say, ‘what’s going to be in the park,’ I say, ‘you tell me.’ We need to meet with the neighbors and say we’ve bought this gorgeous piece of property, what do you want to see?” Sinclair said. “I would imagine what we’re going to have is a pretty low-intensity park, a good neighborhood park with some handicap parking, maybe a pavilion, a playground, a walking trail, just a place where kids can play.”
Funds to purchase the property were paid for with the city’s 2009 $25 million parks bond.
Funds in the bond can be used to build the park as well.
“We have spent about $11.4 million to date on land acquisition and completed projects,” Buss said.