Garner’s town council approved contracts for the town to snap up enough properties to move forward with designing the bond-funded downtown recreation center.
In purchasing six more properties on the block bordered by Main, Purvis and Montague streets, the town will own all land needed for the footprint of the proposed three-gym complex. It continues to negotiate for two remaining properties on the block, targeted for a proposed relocated regional library.
The town also purchased new property adjacent to Garner Baseball which will most likely become expanded parking for baseball, the rec center and downtown events.
“We’re finally getting some progress on some of the things we’ve been working on for a while,” Garner Revitalization Association executive director John Hodges said.
At Monday’s council meeting, a unanimous vote authorized the execution of the purchase of 209 and 211 Main St. as well as 106, 108, 110 and 114 Purvis St.
The town will own the northern two-thirds of the block except for 207 Main and 104 Purvis, which are both owned by the same extended family that sold 209 and 211 Main. Emphasis was placed on the latter two, which have no structures and sold for a combined $50,000, because they fell on rec center land.
“We know how important the gym is to the City of Garner,” said Carla Rogers, daughter of the land’s owner, Bertron Haywood.
Bonds will cover half of the estimated $7.8 million cost. The rest comes from grants and a $2.5 million gift from ConAgra. Separate land acquisition money was also passed in the March 12 bond referendum.
Rogers said Monday the family had sent a proposal to the town regarding the other two properties. She said the family likes the idea of a library being built on land bought in 1877 by freed slave-turned-teacher Allen Haywood.
“We’re kind of hoping the library does go ahead and move there, because we have a family of educators, and what better place than a library,” Rogers said, noting five generations of educators in the family.
The county has not committed to moving the Southeast Regional Library on Seventh Avenue. Hodges said the town remains hopeful that the county would partner to create the new library. The county has interest in upgrading that library, but has not yet committed any funds to that end.
“As we move forward with beginning design work for the recreation center, we will go to the county staff to see if there is desire on staff – and elected official – level to move forward together on a joint project,” Hodges said.
If the county were to say no, Hodges said, the town would evaluate what use for the space would most benefit the downtown area.
Once the contracts are executed, the town will pay $74,348 to Garrett Laws Heirs for 106 Purvis Street, $143,000 to the White family for 108 & 110 Purvis Street and $140,000 to Rudolph Phillips for 114 Purvis Street, the other land on the rec center block.
It also will pay $98,590 to Scott and Norma Greenwood for 405 W. Main St. and $150,000 to Pearl Street LLC for the part of 106 Pearl Street on the west side of the street. The town has long had interest in those plots as it looks to add parking and continue to expand a recreation activity hub consisting of Garner Baseball and the new gym separated from it by one block.
“The timing was coincidental that these two happened along with the rec center,” Hodges said. “Every time we have an event downtown we have a desperate need for parking.”