EDITORS: (View / download Map of Haw River)
RALEIGH -- Officials with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Bluegreen Corp. have reached an agreement for the state parks system to acquire 692 acres near the headwaters of the Haw River in Guilford and Rockingham counties to expand the developing Haw River State Park. The agreement is subject to approval by the governor and the Council of State.
Under the agreement, the state will purchase three tracts held by Bluegreen for $14 million. The acquisition will be financed through certificates of participation to be repaid with future revenues into the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund.
The property, assembled by Bluegreen for a residential golf course community, will instead be added to about 300 acres the state parks system acquired since 2004 and which includes The Summit environmental education center. The acquisition will give the new state park a larger land base of significant natural resource value and the potential to develop traditional state park amenities.
The state parks system expects to complete the purchase by the end of February.
?This agreement is a reflection of Bluegreen Corp.?s good corporate citizenship in North Carolina,? Bill Ross, secretary of the department, said. ?When Bluegreen officials became aware that the state parks system had a sincere interest in this property and the means to pay fair market value, they were willing to negotiate in good faith. The result will be a vibrant state park that will offer conservation, recreation and education for future generations as this region develops.?
?Bluegreen Communities is pleased that we were able to work together with the state of North Carolina to reach this agreement, which will allow the state to proceed with plans to develop the property as a state park. Bluegreen is most interested in being a good neighbor and a good corporate citizen in the communities where we invest. We believe that our agreement with the state is in the best interest of all parties involved,? BlueGreen Communities said in a statement regarding Haw River State Park.
The acquisition is possible because of a commitment to conservation by the General Assembly, said Lewis Ledford, director of the state parks system. ?The legislature?s decision in its last session for up to $50 million in certificates of participation to be issued through the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund allows us to respond quickly to opportunities such as this. Local park supporters, including the Friends of Haw River State Park, were strong advocates for the conservation of this property and its inclusion in the state park.?
Bluegreen Corp. of Boca Raton, Fla. originally had secured purchase options on property owned by Thaxton Richardson, Forrest Campbell and Annie B. Cox. State officials began negotiating directly with Bluegreen shortly after the company was granted a rezoning request by Guilford County?s planning board to allow the development.
The Bluegreen property lies north of N.C. 150, east of North Church Street, and south of the Haw River, with most of the acreage in Guilford County. The property was identified by the state parks system early on as important to the park?s development, and is contiguous with existing state park property to the east. However, development of Haw River State Park remains in the land acquisition stage, and negotiations with other willing sellers in the vicinity are ongoing.
Haw River State Park was authorized by the General Assembly in 2003 as part of the state parks system?s New Parks for a New Century initiative. The area near the Haw River headwaters was one of 12 sites in the state identified with the potential for state park development based on its natural resource value, recreation potential and proximity to urban areas under-served by the state parks system.
# # #