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Council approves park area
Activity center part of Main Street project
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Dawsonville is another step closer to adding an activity center and green space.

The city council voted unanimously Monday night to buy 14.2 acres between the Dawsonville Municipal Complex and library from Rialto Banks for $483,242, or about $34,000 per acre.

"The sale was pending three contingencies - the survey, the appraisal in accordance with state law and the title run. I am pleased to report that all three of these ... have been satisfied," said City Attorney Dana Miles before the vote.

Dubbed "The Main Street Park" project, the topic was first brought up during an October meeting, at which time the council gave Mayor James Grogan power to enter talks with the property owners.

Grogan later reported back that the site was smaller than first thought.

"The bank indicated 18.18 acres, but we've looked at it and done the layout, and it doesn't show to be that much property, so we're in the process of coming up with a price," he said. "We've made a tentative offer based on acreage rather than a lump sum price."

Following the appraisal, the city and the bank were able to reach agreement on the usable acreage, which did not include roads running through the property.

According to Miles, the sale will be financed through the Downtown Development Authority.

"The city will then engage in a long-term lease with the thought process of funding both the acquisition and development of the property through the SPLOST [VI]," Miles said. "The Main Street Park project is one of our key notes on our SPLOST provision."

The extension of the 1-cent special purpose local option sales tax, known as SPLOST VI, is set to go before voters in a referendum Nov. 4. Last month, city and county officials met to begin outlining the projects they would like to see funded if voters approve it.

The city requested $2.25 million in sales tax money go toward the park project to fund both the land acquisition and subsequent development.

"Worst-case scenario, can we do this without SPLOST?" asked Councilman Chris Gaines during the meeting. "This is an ideal scenario for the way SPLOST works for everyone - city and county - to benefit from this. If that doesn't work, can it still fit into our budget?"

Miles agreed that, while it would fit in the city's budget, it was not ideal.

"The downside of not fitting it into the SPLOST is that the development cost will exceed the cost of the property," he said. "To develop a park there would cost substantially more than that, so hopefully we will reach an agreement with the county that will benefit all the residents of the county, because everybody can use that park."