Waste Watchers: Taxpayers purchase $3M worth of cow pasture

7:35 AM, Nov 15, 2012   |    comments
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McDONOUGH, Ga. -- Taxpayers in Henry County own $3 million worth of cow pasture.

There's supposed to be a park there, but four years after buying 123 acres on Kelleytown Road, the property is still acre after acre of green grass and grazing cattle.

John Koivisto lives next door, and thinks the county spent too much, park or no park.

"But once you've got it, do something with it instead of letting it sit empty," said Koivisto. "It seems like a waste."

In 2008, Henry County agreed to purchase the property that would be known as Kelleytown Park. The plan was to create a passive park with a pavilion along with hiking and biking trails.

The county purchased the property for $3.2 million from a land owner who bought it for $2.3 million four years before.

A county spokesperson says there was not an independent appraisal of the land prior to the county's purchase.

"The county wanted park land in that area because it was underserved," said spokesperson Julie Hoover-Ernst. "At that point and time, it was for the fair market value for that size, that parcel of land. It was at the peak of our real estate pricing before things started to go down with the economy."

Four years later, the county doesn't have the money to construct the park.

The land was purchased with funds collected from a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. Henry County's plan was to develop the park with money collected after voters agreed to extend the tax.

But the tax extension didn't bring in the money the county expected.

"Because of the economy, the SPLOST revenue hasn't been where they were projected to be," said Hoover-Ernst. "There have been other projects put on hold because the revenues aren't there."

The park project isn't dead.

Volunteer organizations have already started work on the biking and hiking trails. Using donated funds and supplies, they've developed a design that was recently approved. They're hoping to have work on the park complete by spring or summer of 2013.

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