MILTON, Ga. — The city has agreed to finalize a major land acquisition by purchasing 140 acres of land that comprised the former Milton Country Club under the Greenspace Bond. The city is expected to close on the property Jan. 15.
The purchase price of the site was $5 million, or about $36,000 per acre.
The city announced its agreement to complete the purchase on Dec. 29, the final day of the due diligence period. During that time, city staff conducted a survey, appraisal and environmental assessments of the site.
Original documentation showed the site to be 137 acres, but the survey revealed the site was actually just under 140. The property appraised for $6 million, one million more than the purchase price.
The initial environmental assessment raised concerns regarding the site’s fuel and fertilizer storage areas, but a Phase II assessment showed environmental issues were “below reportable quantities and could either be left in place or removed and disposed,” according to a statement from the city.
Greenspace Bond funds are limited for use only on passive parks or greenspace. That restriction forced the city to make a separate purchase for the site’s active amenities, including the tennis and pool areas.
According to Shannon Ferguson, communications director, the city’s finance staff and attorneys are currently working on funding outside of the bond for the site’s active facilities.
“We will be updating the [City] Council and the public when those details become available,” she said.
The Milton Country Club purchase is the first under the $25 million bond which passed with 83 percent of voters in favor in the Nov. 8, 2016 general election.
Under the bond, a potential acquisition must meet certain criteria, including a willing landowner of contiguous, buildable land, preservation of trees and add to the city’s trails and parks, greenspace or rural character.
City Manager Steve Krokoff previously told the Milton Herald that the site meets all criteria except contiguous land, but due to its 140-acre size, it will be a destination in itself.
The park will remain closed as the city seeks to create a master plan for the site. Ferguson said that process, which is anticipated to begin this spring, will include hiring a planning consultant.
The city is exploring short-term solutions that would assist the upcoming tennis and swim seasons at the former country club. During that time, the city will begin to address accessibility issues under the Americans with Disabilities Act, whose requirements must be met before the site is open to the public, Ferguson said.
“Our staff will be diligently working through these issues in the short-term to ensure all laws and regulations regarding accessibility receive compliance,” a statement from the city said. “Any long-term planning decisions regarding use of the property and facilities will guide how we proceed and what is required to ensure all regulatory and access issues are addressed.”
Milton Police will increase their patrols of the site while the park is closed, the statement said. Milton Fire will assess the property for any short-term safety needs and a final emergency plan will correspond to the park’s eventual master plan.
The timing of purchase coincides with Milton seeking to retain greenspace through other initiatives. The city is currently finalizing its trails master plan, incentivize large residential lots and update its Transfer Development Rights program.