On Monday Wilmington City Council talked again about buying about 15 acres at Echo Farms, including the pool and tennis courts.
No decisions were made at Monday’s meeting, but leaders at both levels said if they buy the land, it would benefit the community by saving a piece of green space in a growing area. They said they aren’t sure when they may make a definite decision.
On the county’s end, Commissioner Jonathan Barfield said he thinks the city and the county will find a win win solution for everyone in the next few months.
“I think that we’re all committed to bringing that property into the fold of local government and having some green space as so much green space is leaving our community to preserve some of that,” Barfield said.
City council member Paul Lawler said they still have a lot of unanswered questions before they can make a decision.
Lawler said they want to look at the impact on tax payers, and other details before moving forward.
“I think there’s a lot of interest in doing this," Lawler said. "It just comes down to the details, and we have to just make sure they’re right. What’s it going to cost? What repairs are needed out there? Is the road access correct? Where will people park? Who will manage the different components of it? All of those things."
The company that owns the property now, Matrix, said they haven’t given the city and county a timeline on when they have to make a decision. They said they believe that it would be best for everyone if this piece of property is preserved.
If the city and county don’t buy it, Matrix will develop it into apartments.
Rod Badakhsh has been coaching tennis at Echo Farms for 23 years.
“If the property is going to be sold to continue as a tennis program, I’m very interested in that process. But if it’s going to be sold to develop as an apartment complex, it’s just kind of a loss of recreation space,” Badakhsh said.
Badakhsh said that Matrix has let him lease the tennis courts until the property is sold or developed. Matrix is also leasing the pool to someone and it is currently open.
If a deal with local leaders goes through, it would open a clay tennis court to the public.
“Wilmington has a huge tennis population and this would allow for people who can’t necessarily afford to belong to a clay court facility, it would give them that opportunity,” Badakhsh said.
“If you want to play on clay courts and you live in New Hanover County, you have to pay. If this was a public facility, that might not happen,” Badakhsh said.
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