Government and Real Estate

Kent County falls into a real land deal

Acquisition would expand park in Lowell and complete preservation project.

November 8, 2013
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Kent County
The land Kent County is acquiring is along Covered Bridge Road adjacent to Fallasburg Park in Lowell. Courtesy

The transaction may go down as the best land deal Kent County has come across in decades.

The county’s parks system has an opportunity to buy 20 acres of undeveloped land adjacent to its Fallasburg Park in Lowell for just $9,500. The property, which is surrounded by the park on three of its sides, is along Covered Bridge Road and has been appraised at the sale price of $208,000.

“This just fell into place. The landowner really just wanted us to have it,” said County Parks Director Roger Sabine.

The reason the county’s cost to buy the coveted property is so meager is that $198,500 in gifts and grants awarded to the county will be used to cover the bulk of the purchase price.

Sabine said his department has been negotiating with Joyce Humphrey, the property’s owner, for several years. Adding the land to Fallasburg Park would complete a project to preserve 80 acres of wooded highlands on the south side of Covered Bridge Road, which is where the historic Fallasburg Covered Bridge sits.

“The goal was to keep Covered Bridge Road in its natural state,” said Sabine.

Funding for the transaction will come from five sources. The Lowell Area Community Fund will donate $100,000, with $25,000 each coming from the Peter C. and Emajean Cook Foundation, the Secchia Family Foundation and the Korth Family Foundation. The Kent County Parks Foundation will give $23,500 toward the purchase.

The parks system’s $9,500 will be taken from the county’s Parkland Acquisition fund, which will leave the account with a balance of $256,661.

Sabine said Humphrey has volunteered to pay for the closing costs that have been estimated at $3,400. He also said his department will maintain the property in its natural state.

From 2005 through 2011, the county has purchased 944 acres for its parks system for $8 million, a figure that includes county money and grant dollars. The last time the county bought land for Fallasburg Park was in October 2008 when it purchased six acres for $99,998.

County commissioners are likely to approve the current property transaction on Nov. 21.

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