The Downtown Development Authority has closed on a loan to buy 18 acres behind the Dawsonville Municipal Complex for a planned city park.
Mayor James Grogan attended the authority's special called meeting July 22, when it voted to give Chairman Gordon Pirkle and secretary/treasurer Seanie Zappendorf clearance to sign the $550,000 loan.
"It's real important that we do this. For the sake of the whole development, we really need that land," he said. "We use it now on a limited basis.
"They allow us to use it, but that won't go on if we didn't get it. So this way, we've got control of it and we can do what we need to do with it."
At about $34,000 an acre, the purchase includes a credit to the city in the amount of $68,000 for road repairs surrounding the complex.
As part of the deal, the city would lease back the property from the authority. The lease payments would equal the payments to the bank on the loan, according to City Attorney Dana Miles.
"From a cash-flow perspective, it's a cash-flow neutral vehicle for the DDA," he said.
City officials named the park on Main Street, which would include greenspace and an amphitheater, as the top project for a proposed extension of the 1-cent sales tax. Voters will decide on the measure in a referendum Nov. 4.
If approved, the tax extension would begin in June 2015.
"If the voters approve [the tax extension], the city would have the money to pay the loan off," Miles said. "I think the projected development cost right now is about $1.5 million to develop the park.
"I know that the city council feels very strongly that this will be, not just a good acquisition for the city, but it will be an economic tool, because it will bring people into the city."
The park, however, is not dependent on the sales tax extension, according to Miles.
"It's dependent on the [tax money] to develop it, dependent upon the [tax] to pay the debt off, if necessary, but the city has sufficient reserves," he said.