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The City Council gave preliminary approval Tuesday to put 19 parks on the November ballot, which would leave the choice with voters on whether to decommission the recreational areas.
But even if voters give city officials the authority to close and auction the parcels of land, that doesn't mean the parks would immediately be sold, officials said.
The city would have the leeway to allow residents to adopt the parks, said Barney Knight, interim city attorney, and the council has requested adding language to an ordinance on the proposition, directing staff to notify nearby residents of impending park sales, similarly to how the city notifies residents of rezoning cases.
In all, 19 parks will likely appear on the ballot, down from 24 presented to the council in June. Since that presentation, neighbors of four of the parks - Holly, Lexington, Lee Manor and Brandywine - adopted those parks, brokering a deal with the city to provide landscaping and litter abatement.
A fifth park, First Colony, is expected to be taken off the decommission list after county officials expressed interest in absorbing the 10 acres off Lone Oak Drive, owned by the city, into an adjoining county-maintained park, said Mike Morris, director of parks and recreation.
The parks slated for decommissioning were selected through a three-year process that included public meetings, community outreach and surveys.
City officials were seeking to downsize the parks portfolio to better maintain the recreational areas used by the most people. The city has 207 sites designated and maintained as parks, Morris said. If voters approve the decommissioning, that number would drop to 188.
Decommissioning the parks requires voter approval. Proceeds from any land sales would be devoted to the maintenance and care of remaining city parks.
The item is expected to return to the council Aug. 12 for a final vote.
July 30, 2014