Despite calls from residents, Wake County officials voted late Monday night to sell the former Crooked Creek Golf Course.
The decision was made after hours of debate and comments from more than 50 people, almost all of whom asked the Wake County Council of Commission to follow up on its previous vote to make the land a future park. .
Shortly after 11 pm Commissioners Vickie Adamson, Greg Ford, Jessica Holmes and James West voted in favor of selling the property. Commissioners Matt Calabria, Susan Evans and Sig Hutchinson voted against the motion.
"My decision, ultimately, is how we spend valuable taxpayer money in a fair manner for all residents of Wake County," said Adamson.
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Hutchinson apologized to supporters of the park plan.
"I feel angry, frustrated and saddened," he said. And I know so many people in this room feel the same way. "
The county bought last summer the former Crooked Creek Golf Course, outside Fuquay-Varina, to become the future South Wake Park.
The proposal to reverse the course was proposed by Ford, the vice chairman of the board. Before the public comment portion of the meeting, he explained why he wanted to sell the land and why he wanted to do it so quickly.
"For me, it's about character and integrity," he said.
Before he could continue, audience members began to laugh and boo, thus drawing a reproach from Holmes.
The meeting was tense at times, with some audience members asking if Ford was honest and of character while others were talking about the value of his home. A speaker called Judas.
"I teach my own children, as I did with the thousands of students I've served over the years, that you have to defend what you believe and what you think is right, "said Ford. "I think everyone here today is doing the same thing, even though we may be on the same side. To me, this question, Crooked Creek, is such a serious precedent for Wake County that I feel compelled to do something about it.
Proponents of the park had a long list of reasons why they wanted the 143 acres to be transformed into a park that included health benefits. Anthony LoGiudice, who is suffering from cancer, said he was settling in the Fuquay-Varina region because he wanted to spend his last years in fresh air.
"I'll be dead soon," he said. "I will not benefit from [the park]. But future children will do it.
Another speaker, Loraine Hayes, said that she also had cancer and that she was excited about creating a park, which gave her the opportunity to go out into the wild and make of exercise.
"What would be a good government?" She said. "Would it be having citizens to debate a question and find out their words and the time they had imported? Would it be reassuring for citizens to do one thing and do another?
Carey Kidd bought her house in the Crooked Creek Subdivision in December and said the future park was an important selling point for her family. It breaks his heart, he said, that the council does not seem interested in keeping his word.
"Show us that you are not bought," he said. "Show us that it's a park. Go with your word.
Ford said the sale of the property would correct "a controversial and unprecedented action". Critics of the purchase said the county should have spent money on affordable housing or education.
Calabria and Hutchinson said the purchase of the property for $ 4 million – $ 45,000 less than the market value – was a great deal to help create a park in an area that currently does not have one.
Brian Edlin, a lawyer with the Crooked Creek Community Association, has threatened "numerous litigation" if the county sells the property. At Monday's meeting, he noted that the residents lifted the restrictive alliances on the land because the county voted to make it a park.
The restoration of the covenants was not discussed during the motion to put the property up for sale, despite calls to the attention of the crowd.
If the county sells the property, all tenders must be submitted to the commissioners for approval. Holmes said the property did not necessarily go to the highest bidder. She could, she said, turn to an affordable housing partner or another group interested in maintaining a park or open space.
Several park supporters and commissioners blamed politics for motivating the vote.
"(This park) has been reduced to a political refund from wealthy donors who have spent thousands of dollars on campaigns to elect and elect people," said Hutchinson.
Some school supporters – including Democratic donors Ann Campbell and Dean Debnam – estimated that the county would spend $ 4 million on a park when the school system did not receive its entire budget. Commissioners voted an increase in school funding of $ 21 million over the previous year, but this amount did not match the demand for an additional $ 45.2 million from the school system.
Campbell and Debnam, along with their respective wives and political committees, invested thousands of dollars in the campaigns of the four Democratic candidates contesting the park commissioners. Debnam's CAP even sent an election letter saying that the four holders wanted to "bail out a failing golf course". The golf course closed in 2015.
Adamson and Evans, Parks Commissioners John Burns and Erv Portman. Burns and Portman expressed frustration at the commissioners likely to sell the property.
On Monday night, Evans stated that she wanted to address "the elephant in the room" and that she was insulting to insinuate that she would not be sitting at the hotel. board of directors without the question of Crooked Creek.
"I want good governance and the process here," she said. "I do not feel like asking myself the question as a member of the board of directors, before attending an information meeting on Crooked Creek and waiting for me to vote like that so that the surplus is good or fair. "
Adamson, for his part, admits to campaigning on the Crooked Creek issue.
"This purchase has benefited a neighborhood that does not want additional houses built in its yard," she said.
After the vote, the park's supporters came out of the meeting room shouting "It's not over" and "We'll see you in court".