City to make offer for Miracle Field site
The city will offer to buy a piece of property on which to expand High Point’s Miracle field from Guilford County Schools for $300,000.
In a 5-4 vote, the City Council on Monday authorized staff to enter into an agreement with GCS for the purchase of 9.8 acres at School Park and Shadybrook roads.
High Point leaders have long been interested in acquiring the land to add parking and new features for the Miracle League, which hosts games for disabled and special-needs children on adjacent property. The school system is not currently using the site, which had been considered a possible location for a middle school.
The city has been negotiating with the school board since last April, when it offered to buy the site for $294,300, which is its 2012 assessed tax value. The board turned this offer down, and asked that the city have the site appraised, which it did, at a cost of about $3,000 by Michael S. Clapp & Associates Inc., a Winston-Salem real estate appraiser.
Clapp appraised the site for $255,000, and the board’s counteroffer to this was $335,000.
The city will use 2004 parks and recreation bond funds to cover the bulk of the purchase, with about $5,000 of two-thirds bonds making up the balance.
Mayor Bernita Sims, along with council members Britt Moore, Judy Mendenhall, Jeff Golden and Jim Davis voted in favor of the purchase. Councilwoman Becky Smothers made a substitute motion to buy the site for $291,300, which is its tax value minus the cost of the city’s appraisal.
Her motion was supported by council members Foster Douglas, Jason Ewing and Jay Wagner.
“Even at ($291,300), I still feel that’s high, after our appraiser brought it in at ($255,000),” said Ewing. “The price of real estate right now — you can’t find real estate anywhere going for 10 or 12 percent above its appraised value. ... I just don’t see it as a benefit in overspending for this piece of property.”
Smothers said she opposed paying the higher amount “because I think the taxpayers are getting ripped off.”
Monday’s vote starts the process of acquiring the property. The next steps would be acceptance of the city’s offer by the school board and approval of the sale by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners.
Some of the previous haggling by the school board over the value of the site stems from an appraisal GCS had done in 2011, which put the land’s value at $400,000, based, in part, on multifamily residential development as the highest and best use available for part of the site.
However, such a use would be impossible under terms of a contract between the city and the school system, which prevents the land from being for anything other than a school or for recreational purposes. In addition, the city has made it clear that the council would never rezone the site to allow for residential use.