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Haywood bids for recreation tract in Jonathan Creek

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer

Haywood County officials are jumping at the chance to purchase 22 acres of land for recreational space that will help make the county’s master recreation plan a reality.

In a bit of a spur-of-the-moment decision, officials this week placed an upset bid of $693,000 on the land, which is part of a larger parcel of about almost 200 acres located in the Jonathan Creek area.

“It’s sort of like an alignment of planets when you have an eclipse. It doesn’t happen but once in a coon’s age,” Commissioner Larry Ammons said, commenting on the unique opportunity the county has to acquire well-located, flat land in its price range.

According to Commissioner Kirk Kirkpatrick, the master recreation plan completed last year pointed to a shortage of land for recreation in the county. Historically the towns of Waynesville and Canton have funded the majority of recreation facilities and programs in the county. Commissioner Skeeter Curtis admitted “the county has not really invested in recreation as they should have over the years.”

“This gives us the other piece of the puzzle we need to continue to move forward,” said Ammons.

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The master recreation plan, based largely on public input, called for a variety of recreational opportunities, including an outdoor swimming pool, greenways, walking trails and above all, additional soccer and ball fields for organized sports. Specifically, the plan called for construction of a recreation park with ballfields in the Jonathan Creek area, which Ammons called “the most growing area of the county with the largest deficit of park and recreation land.”

The county quickly decided to bid on the parcel.

“We are going to run out of flat land pretty soon,” said Commissioner Bill Upton. “I think it’s a good investment for our future. We invested in our kids, and that’s our best investment.”

The bid, however, does not guarantee that the county will get the land. Other interested parties have 10 days to bid on the property — known as an “upset bid” process — but any new bids must be at least 5 percent higher than the county’s bid.

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