The Clinton City Council has approved the purchase of a Willow Road property in order to clean up the area and use the lot as green space for a community park.
The Council signed off on the purchase of the 107 Willow Road property during its recent meeting. The property, owned by B.J. Johnson, was bought for $21,000 following negotiations. The topic was discussed at the Council’s February meeting and was briefly broached again this month.
“We have been investigating and looking to buy this property to improve the area,” Mayor Lew Starling noted.
Council previously authorized city staff to negotiate with the owner of the vacant lot on Willow Road for its potential acquisition for use as green space and a neighborhood park. At the meeting, City manager Shawn Purvis said if Council still wished to purchase the lot and clear title was assured, he recommended approval of the purchase after an acceptable title search by City attorney Tim Howard.
The Council unanimously agreed.
Purvis has explained that the proposed project in the neighborhood near L.C. Kerr School could have multiple benefits. Clinton has several parks for its residents, but with the Willow Road property could add another — this time with a pond attached.
The pond near the intersection of Wilson and Grove streets (in the vicinity of L.C. Kerr School) serves as a stormwater basin for the area, and the cleanliness of the pond and its surroundings has become a concern for some residents and staff. The city provided limited maintenance of the pond in the past although it is private property. The owner approached the city at the beginning of the year about taking control of that pond property.
“Staff feels the city could easily maintain the pond and even create a park if the city chooses to acquire an adjoining parcel,” Purvis said in February. “If the current owner of the pond is willing to donate it to the city, I recommend City Council consider accepting it so we can ensure its cleanliness and functionality.”
Public Works would clean and maintain the pond similarly to the Springvale Cemetery ponds, Purvis has noted. With the adjacent parcel on Willow Road vacant and access to the pond limited to a small strip along Wilson Street, Purvis proposed acquiring that 0.6-acre Willow Road parcel to provide access to the pond and create a small pocket park with a couple picnic tables.
Council directed staff at the time to look into costs for the property. Purvis said the city could entertain naming rights to the park to offset the cost, which Council now knows is $21,000.
“If we’re able to get the pond and get the vacant lot, I think it’s something that will work well … as far as trying to do some beautification and maybe some artwork,” Councilman Neal Strickland has said. “I think that’s something District 2 would be proud of and I think we all would be proud of.”
Districts 1 and 2 are the only districts without a park, although Fisher Drive Park (in District 5) is adjacent to District 1. Strickland said a park in his district could serve to boost the quality of life.
The area around the pond is visible to regular traffic at nearby Kerr School and Jordan Shopping Center. The city’s upkeep of the pond would cost approximately $50 per month not including personnel hours that could be absorbed by the existing budget. That would be money well spent to have something new in District 2, Strickland said earlier this year.
Councilman Steve Stefanovich said it would be nice to have all the pieces needed to convert that to a pocket park, before moving forward on a single element.
“I think that would be an asset,” Councilwoman Jean Turlington agreed.
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