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Next steps on East Monroe site

MONROE — The landowner of the East Monroe greenspace wanted the city to enter into a letter of intent formalizing the city into purchasing 43 acres of land, but City Council members resisted June 23.
The city doesn’t have government grant money secured right now to complete the purchase. It is actively seeking about $2.3 million in grant funding this year toward the purchase; the money is being sourced from state and county conservation programs. It has $500,000 on-hand from a 2019 county grant.
An expired appraisal set the purchase price at $2.8 million. The landowner, Heritage Baptist Fellowship Church’s Pastor Tom Minnick, is asking for a fresh appraisal at the city’s expense, city administrator Deborah Knight said.
The council declined. It directed the city to order a new appraisal only after it’s clear the city has grant money in-hand to fulfill the land buy.
“It makes no sense for the city to enter into any letter of intent if we don’t have funds secured,” Councilman Jason Gamble said. Other council members agreed.
Acquiring the land for open space is a city goal, however the city’s higher priorities are to put all-weather turf at Lake Tye Park and to secure money for a future park in the North Hills area.
Councilwoman Patsy Cudaback spoke to this, noting her “only reservation” is that “this project takes time and resources from other projects” the city wants for parks.
The city may have to commit much of its money dedicated to park improvements toward just the Lake Tye and North Hills projects.
Minnick refocused on selling the greenspace to the city in either late 2017 or 2018.
Heritage Baptist’s prior attempts to get the 43 acres of open land rezoned into developable commercial land, a rezone that a prior City Council approved, was blocked by government land agencies and ultimately halted in March 2018 by the state court of appeals.


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