City sells park land to GDOT

Published 11:26 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The purchasing process for the Hamilton Road widening project is moving along, but the latest piece of property requested from the City of LaGrange may require significantly more work from the city since selling the property will mean giving up a historic local park.

On Tuesday, the LaGrange City Council voted to accept the Georgia Department of Transportation’s offer of $175,700 for the Union Street Park property. The request is the largest brought before the city council as part of the Hamilton Road widening project. The council has granted several other pieces of property to GDOT for the expansion in a show of support. However, the council agreed that the funds offered for this property would likely be needed to create a new park space for the area.

“What they have projected the value of that to be is $176,000,” City Manager Meg Kelsey said.

“Because they are going to take the majority of Union Street Park… I would recommend that the council take the offer. The past couple of transactions have been small remnant pieces of our parcels, but we are basically going to have to identify a new park.”

Kelsey noted nearby properties that could be purchased and used to replace the park property.

“I think we need to take the funding to enable us to buy land and do whatever we need to do,” Kelsey said. “It is an integral part of this area. It is a very widely used park.”

The city has plans to create a master park plan, but it was unclear on Tuesday when the establishment of another park in the Union Street area would occur in relation to that park plan.  However, the need for a park in that section of the city went without question.

“We are going to have to spend some money to do a park after they come through and do the road, so we need that cash to make it,” Mayor Jim Thornton said.

According to Thornton, the reason the entire park space is needed is for the realignment of Union Street, so that a clear four-way stop can be created with Fannin Street, Union Street and Hamilton Road.

“There will be a traditional square intersection there, which is much safer than what we have now,” Thornton said.

As of Tuesday, the city council was unsure if GDOT plans to install a traffic light at the Union Street and Hamilton Road intersection.

The city has previously agreed with GDOT requests to close off connections from Tower Street and Keyes Street to Hamilton Road in order to limit the number of locations where cars can turn onto the soon to be wider road.  The road project is believed to be on schedule.