$6 million land purchase

The Kernersville Board of Aldermen approved a major land acquisition during Tuesday night’s March 1 meeting, voting 5-0 to spend $6 million on more than 60 acres of property on Union Cross and Shields roads.
The purchase did not face any opposition from board members or the public, and although the matter sailed through approval with very little discussion, it was clear that the deal was years in the making, spanning more than just the currently seated aldermen.
The property in question is located on two separate tracts of land, both totaling approximately 65 acres. The larger of the two is located at 1223 Union Cross Road, on the southeast corner of Union Cross and Shields roads and consists of 52.45 acres, and the smaller tract is located at 0 Shields Road, at the southeast corner of Shields and Beeson roads, and consists of 13.4 acres. Both properties are owned by Andrew Coney.
Town Manager Curtis Swisher briefed aldermen on the purchase during last week’s Board meeting. He provided more details on Tuesday night.
According to Swisher, 1223 Union Cross Road is the field on the right if one is traveling east toward the Ivey M. Redmon Sports Complex, and is contiguous with the Town’s property there. Going south on Union Cross Road, the property is on the left and continues to the Field Crest subdivision. Swisher said 0 Shields Road is the property next to the Tredegar subdivision, across from the Ivey Redmon complex.
“As you all know, the Town has been working with the property owner over the past year-and-a-half, two years … to try to purchase this property in some way, shape or form,” Swisher said. “At one time, the Town was looking at possibly entering into a development agreement for a portion of the property, that would be on the corner of Union Cross and Shields roads to be developed, and then the Town to buy the remainder of the property. That would have yielded about 45 acres of the 65.”
Swisher continued.
“The Board changed direction in that and decided it was probably in the best interest of the Town to try and purchase all 65 acres,” Swisher said.
As he had mentioned before, Swisher noted that all of the property is contiguous to the Ivey M. Redmon Sports Complex, with the property next to Tredegar only split from the park site by Beeson Road.
“Beeson Road kind of splits it. Future plans would probably move, would relocate Beeson Road over and then the property would all be contiguous,” Swisher said.
Swisher described Ivey Redmon as the Town’s largest, active park, using it for hosting tournaments, adult soccer leagues, youth soccer, softball, baseball, kickball and cross country.
“To give you an idea of what we have out there, we have about 40 tournaments, baseball or softball, one or the other, we have about 40 tournaments a year,” Swisher said. “We take June or July, one of the two off, and then usually December and January and then February, and we’ll start back late February, early March.”
Swisher said those 40-50 tournaments usually draw in about 1,500 people each weekend during the season, and bring in around $4 million to the Town in economic impacts, “in terms of folks that come in and spend money on gas, spend money on food, spend money on hotel rooms.”
In addition, Swisher said the park hosts several cross-country meets each year, numbering around 35 last year.
“We have two large meets. One of them has about 6,000 people there in one day. The other one has about 10,000 people there in one day,” Swisher said, with each bringing in around $150,000 in economic boosts to the Town.
The park also has 40-to-50 teams in an adult softball league, Swisher said.
“So, it is an active park. We have plans for expansion of the park. Also, that is where we are currently proposing, on the 28 acres that we currently own up near Shields Road, the Parks and Recreation Center go there,” Swisher said of the new recreation facility to be constructed at Ivey Redmon. “So, with all that in mind, the board thought it would be a better idea to buy the land so we’re not mixing park and a large residential housing development.”
Swisher said as the property is currently zoned, a developer could build about 154 homes on the entire 65 acre tract, and on the Tredegar side, a road connection would be developed from Beeson Road into the subdivision.
“You’d have a lot of cut-through traffic,” Swisher said.
Swisher said the property will be purchased using $1 million in economic development grant funding recently presented to the Town by the state, for which officials recognized N.C. House Rep. Donny Lambeth and N.C. Senator Joyce Krawiec, both of whom represent Kernersville in the General Assembly. The Town will also fund the remainder of the purchase price using about $4 million freed up from using ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding for general government services and then the rest from the Town’s general fund or through financing.
Kernersville resident David Fitzpatrick, who sold the Town the property for the development of what was then the original Beeson Park, spoke in favor of the proposal.
“Every five years, I resurface and give a history of land, especially this land here,” Fitzpatrick said, pointing to an aerial view of the property, including his homeplace, located to the north. “Our family property has been in our family for over a hundred years. Twenty-five years ago, what is now Ivey Redmon Park was part of our family (property), as well.”
Fitzpatrick told the Board that the family sold it to the Town for $10,000 per acre.
“It shows what happens in a Town when there’s growth and prosperity and future thinking,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’ve always said every five years when I come, when somebody’s trying to buy land to try to develop that land, I’ve always said it is the crown jewel of Kernersville. It is the gateway of Kernersville.”
Fitzpatrick continued.
“There is no more attractive piece of property in this area than the land that we’re talking about today, on both sides of Shields Road,” Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick said he had the opportunity to talk with Amy Pope and Mike Stinnett, who own the property on the other side of Shields Road, and both gave their “endorsement and blessings” to the opportunity.
“It is a good opportunity. My mom always taught us to be good stewards of our land,” Fitzpatrick said. “We did not approach the Town 25 years ago to sell our land. The Town did, and actually, it was a big event … They took the chance and purchased the property. That’s the history lesson of it. Who knows what will happen 25 years from now with land?”
Fitzpatrick concluded.
“We thank the Town for their forward thinking and we give our endorsement, as well,” he said.
Alderman Joe Pinnix made the motion to approve the purchase of the property and called the Board’s action historic for the Town. The motion was seconded by Alderman Chris Thompson before being unanimously approved, with support from Mayor Pro Tem Bill Apple and Aldermen John Barrow and J.R. Gorham, as well.
Pinnix and Thompson participated in Tuesday night’s meeting remotely, calling in on the Town’s phone lines.

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