MILTON, Ga. – After a long wait, Providence Park has finally been cleared of the chemicals that have kept it shut.
When Milton became a city over six years ago, one portion of Fulton County stayed with the county – Providence Park.
This was not because Milton did not want it. Rather, they did not want it as-is. The park was closed in 2004 when buried debris and hundreds of containers filled with chemicals were found in a lake and wetlands on the 40-acre parkland.
The county had to clean up the park at its own cost, which has cost several million dollars. This cleanup was further exacerbated when more hazardous materials were found.
But now, after many years and just as many delays, the state Environmental Protection Division says everything is clean.
However, what to do with the park is suddenly a question. This is 40 acres of prime real estate in Milton’s booming residential market. Discussing the matter at their recent meetings, the Fulton County Commission discussed selling the land.
Fulton Commissioner Bill Edwards argued the park is not actually a park and is instead surplus land. If so, it could be sold to the highest bidder.
This goes against what Milton and City Manager Chris Lagerbloom wanted to hear.
“For a park that is entirely inside our city limits, we have the ability to buy from the county at $100 an acre,” Lagerbloom said.
Under state law, a park such as Providence Park, wholly inside a city, can be traded from one government to another for $100 per acre. If the park designation does not exist, market value would apply. Lagerbloom said Milton is justified in asking this price.
“Anybody who wants to buy it should have the opportunity to buy this property,” Edwards said at the Aug. 6 commission meeting.
He admitted Milton should be given the first bid, since it is within their borders and the city has expressed an interest in it. However, he argued the price should be fair market value, not $100 an acre.
“Milton did consider this as potential parkland when the city was created,” said County Commissioner Liz Hausmann at the meeting. “They were advised on the condition of the property and they would wait until remediation is complete.”
At its Aug. 18 meeting, the Milton City Council agreed to offer Fulton County $100 per acre for the site, for a total of $4,200. They hope to take ownership of the park Oct. 1.
A letter of intent is to be sent to the county for them to discuss how next to proceed.
“We want the land at $100 an acre,” Lagerbloom said. “If the price were to be higher than that, I don’t know that we would.”