The Town Council unanimously approved financing the 35-acre American Legion property purchase for $7.9 million Monday night.
While the public hearing was required, the vote was little more than a formality as the council had voted 8-1 in December to buy the land at at 1714 Legion Road.
The deal is expected to close March 26. The town plans to pay $3.6 million from its fund balance, and the rest of the purchase price in two annual installments of $2.15 million, plus 1 percent interest. The town has options for repaying the debt, including selling part of the land and using available parks bond money.
American Legion Post 6 will lease the existing clubhouse and a dance studio on the site for the next three years, while planning for a new post headquarters.
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The community still has to figure out what to do with the land. The town could hold a community charrette on Saturday, April 8, to gather suggestions from residents and members of a 12-member committee.
Town Manager Roger Stancil is expected to propose a committee including representatives from town advisory boards, the council, and community and business interests, at the council’s Monday, March 13, meeting.
The council could receive a report on future possibilities for the land in May.
Residents already have suggested a number of options, including a park, indoor sports facility, cemetery lots, and senior and affordable housing. The American Legion land backs up to the town’s existing 10-acre Ephesus Park on Ephesus Church Road.
Stancil noted the charette would include information about public proposals and private companies interested in developing part of the land.
“My memory is the council was pretty clear in your motion to buy the property that it was going to be used for a combination of some sort of private sector investment to advance the council’s goals and a park, so part of the conversation has to be ... where could that line be?” he said.