Government and Sustainability

County parks department pulls off another deal

More acreage will expand a park in Belmont.

December 13, 2013
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Thirty-two acres of state-owned land the Kent County Parks Department has maintained for the past 17 years may soon become part of the countywide park system.

County commissioners agreed last week to let Parks Director Roger Sabine proceed with the purchase of those acres, which are adjacent to the county’s Rogue River Park. Sabine will buy the land from the state Department of Natural Resources for $1, plus closing costs estimated at $4,800.

“I want to thank Roger for his uncanny ability to seek these things out,” said Commissioner Roger Morgan.

The property transaction is the second interesting land deal Sabine has become involved with in roughly a month. He was able to add 20 acres of key undeveloped land adjacent to Fallasburg Park for just $9,500. The land was appraised at $208,000 and area foundations donated $198,500 to the purchase.

“This just fell into place. The landowner really just wanted us to have it,” said Sabine of Joyce Humphrey last month.

The latest deal still has to be approved by the state Legislature, and a bill to do that has been introduced in the state House. In addition, the county will be required to appropriate the full value of the Rogue River property, which is $345,999, to its capital improvement budget for asset-tracking purposes.

The state DNR approached the county back in 1996 to manage the property; commissioners agreed under the condition that the acres would be turned over to the Parks Department at some point in time.

Since that agreement has been in place, the department developed parking, trails and river access on the land through a grant awarded by the DNR. The money to buy the property, $4,801, will come from the Parkland Acquisition and Development Fund.

The Parks Department manages 42 properties and trails over 6,700 acres of land, with the largest being the 1,500-acre Millennium Park.

The department also manages and maintains the L.E. Kaufman Golf Course. Nearly 30,000 rounds of 18 holes were played on Kaufman in 2012, and almost 16,000 9-hole rounds. For every dollar the department invested in Kaufman last year, it got $1.20 in return.

“The golf course is performing well,” said Sabine.

Kaufman revenues totaled $860,121 last year, while expenses were $719,533.

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