Wake County commissioners narrowly pass land deal to turn old golf course into park

Andrea Blanford Image
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Plan to turn golf course into park passes
Plan to turn golf course into park passed by Wake County commissioners.

FUQUAY-VARINA, North Carolina (WTVD) -- In a 4-3 vote, Wake County commissioners are moving forward with a plan to purchase an old golf course with plans to create a new park in Fuquay-Varina.

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The $3.9 million land is the former Crooked Creek Golf Course. The course closed in 2015.

Commissioner Erv Portman and co-chair Matt Calabria both pointed out that it been a decade since Wake County has seen a new park. They said building parks is part of their goals as a commission.

"There are certain decisions that have to be made now in order to protect this beautiful area," said Portman.

RELATED: Proposal to purchase Crooked Creek Golf Course (.pdf)

RELATED: Proposal to purchase Crooked Creek final summary (.pdf)

More than a hundred supporters filled the county commission meeting room. Most of them wore green to urge commissioners to vote yes to a new park. The overall plan for the 164-acre space would also include a new school and Holly Springs-based nonprofit, 3 Irish Jewels Farm. The nonprofit cares for children and adults with autism.

"There are 1 in 58 children with autism in Wake County and they're growing up," said Erin O'Laughlin, founder of 3 Irish Jewels Farm.

O'Loughlin said the land would be used to build an agricultural community for adults with autism to live and work and children to participate in day programs.

"There is next to no affordable housing for this population and we, 3 Irish Jewels Farm, would be providing affordable housing on a county park," she said.

But affordable housing is one of the several reasons that three commissioners could not support buying the park.

"Wake County, per the recommendation of our affordable housing steering committee is actively assessing any land in our possession that we can use to address Wake County's affordable housing crisis. It would be a slap in the face of that effort for this board to allocate land for any other purpose," said Commissioner Jessica Holmes.

While all commissioners agreed the Crooked Creek project would be a positive for the community. Commissioners James West and Greg Ford agreed with Holmes.

Ford talked about other things higher on the priority list in the county. He listed things like education, health and human services, affordable housing, poverty and homelessness.

Calabria said board members have received hundreds of emails in recent weeks in a show of overwhelming support for the land purchase. "Our board has always been very supportive of parks and open space, and if we're going to be about this commitment, let's be about it," he said.