City leaders are considering three separate properties that could add nearly 70 acres of additional park land if purchased.
The Gallatin City Council gave initial approval Tuesday to spend $10,000 for land appraisals for the three properties. A final vote is expected to take place Oct. 1.
The sites being considered for the future park space are located adjacent to downtown, in the area of Airport Road and in the Station Camp area, according to Mayor Paige Brown. The properties are approximately 3 acres, 14 acres and 50 acres in size.
“This is very much an exploration phase,” Brown added. “As the city grows and as we have more residents and more land paved over, we’ve got to make some effort to preserve some useful greenspace to maintain the character of our community. Our scenic beauty is very key to what is identifiable in our city and we don’t want to lose that.”
Each year, the equivalent of seven football fields of crop land is lost across the city while a total of nine football fields of new paved surfaces are added, according to Gallatin’s recently completed strategic plan.
If purchased, two of the properties could be used as passive parks with picnic shelters and playground equipment while the final one could allow for some “really unique opportunities,” according to Brown. The price tag to acquire all three locations would likely be more than $1 million.
While the city could pay cash for the land, Brown said the city could fund the potential purchases with a bond that could also include funding for other projects like a combined police and fire training facility at the city’s industrial park on Airport Road.
“If we go with a bond issue, we’d want to get feedback from all of the council members and department heads about what else we should be thinking about if we’re going to be borrowing money,” Brown added. “What else do we really need to get done that would make sense to put into a bond?”
City leaders will likely decide on whether to move forward with purchasing the properties by the end of the year.
Brown declined to give the exact locations of the properties at this time citing a desire to reduce pressure on the property owners, protect the city’s interests and not give residents false hope for new parks if a purchase is not made. However, she added that all of the details about each site would be known prior to any decision being made.
“We are not going to purchase anything without letting people know what the properties are,” Brown added. “I feel like we’re going to have good community support.”