COLUMBIA — The city is making plans to purchase approximately 5.3 acres off of Old 63 at 2016 Hillcrest Drive.
The land will be added to the existing 110-acre H.J. Waters and C.B. Moss Memorial Wildlife Nature Area.
The land is appraised at $179,000 and includes a well-maintained ranch-style house, said Mike Hood, director of Columbia's Department of Parks and Recreation.
The land sale was proposed to the city by a representative of the David L. and Beverly L. Jones Trust, which currently owns the property.
An ordinance to purchase the land was introduced at the Monday night meeting of the Columbia City Council.
According to the proposal, the purchase will be paid for with proceeds from the 2005 park sales tax for land acquisitions. The sale will close by Feb. 15, 2013, if it is approved by the City Council, according to documents presented to the council.
"We will purchase the property to preserve the acreage as public open space and then do a valuation of the house and determine if it has a public use," Hood said of the department's intent.
There is precedent of purchasing private land on which houses exist. Rock Creek Quarry Park has a house that the department often rents to the public for reunions and other functions.
"It's very popular," Hood said.
The land is bounded on three sides by the Waters-Moss Memorial Wildlife Area, which is located immediately east of the 200-acre Grindstone Nature Area, according to the documents. If the city purchases the land at Hillcrest Drive, the three properties will total more than 300 acres of open space and park land.
The parks and recreation staff proposed the purchase as an opportunity to remove private land holdings within publicly controlled land, according to the documents.
If acquired, park planners envision preserving the steeply sloped land as open space. The department also suggests the development of nature trails in the heavily wooded area.
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