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Town to acquire 40 acres for park

December 06, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

BOONSBORO - In a deal that could expand Shafer Memorial Park to more than four times its present size, the Town Council is set to spend $604,800 on a 35-acre farm and a separate, state-owned 5.5-acre property.

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The King farm's sale is not final, but Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman Jr. said Monday night he has a firm contract. He hailed the pending acquisition as a legacy for children and future families.

"This is not necessarily going to be a benefit to our generation so much as the next generation to come along," he said.

The council introduced an ordinance Monday that will authorize the sale if it passes a vote next month.

Boonsboro has long sought the property of Braden King, now a resident of Reeders Memorial Home. King's land is the only place where the town's approximately 10-acre park can expand, Kauffman said.

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Other adjacent properties are owned or controlled by developers, according to the mayor. "We needed to have that land and I think everyone knew that," he said.

Under the terms of sale Kauffman announced, Boonsboro will buy the farm for $600,000. It will put down $250,000 at settlement, expected within four months. The remaining $350,000 will be financed over 10 years at a 5.1 percent interest rate.

The seller will hold the mortgage, eliminating closing costs. Boonsboro asked several banks and got the best interest rate based on the market, Kauffman said. The town will use $137,000 of its Program Open Space funds to buy the land.

Certified appraisers put the farm's value at $692,00 and $800,000, according to Town Administrator Eldon "Jake" Jones. During negotiations, Boonsboro tried to get a lower price than $600,000, according to Kauffman.

"It seems like a good price, based on the appraisals," he said.

A small piece of the farm on which a house stands will be subdivided before settlement. Parties have expressed interest in the structure, which needs renovation, according to Kauffman. Boonsboro may sell the .65 acres to help offset the total purchase price.

Land bought with the state's Project Open Space money may not be resold, the mayor said. The subdivided section will be purchased separately.

The farm is a rectangular piece of rolling land, Town Planner Jim Brittain said. It adjoins Potomac Street southwest of the park. About half the property is outside town limits but it may be annexed.

Another 6.5 acres separate the park from the farm, but the town is acquiring that land also. King had the rights to farm the "Sinnisen tract," but ownership now reverts to the town, according to Town Attorney William Wantz.

On the other side of the farm, the State Highway Administration owns 5.5 acres. It agreed to sell the piece for $4,800. Brittain said $4,500 of that price is administrative costs.

"They are giving it to us very, very cheap because we are a municipality," said Kauffman.

Adding 46 acres will increase the size of the town's only park by 418 percent. If the town buys the land, it must then decide how to use it. Kauffman said that's up to residents.

"We've got a lot of ideas but now's the time to get them on paper," he said. "Citizens are welcome to join in."

In coming months, Boonsboro's park board may be drafting plans. "It's an exciting time," Kauffman said.

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