The College Park City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve an ordinance acquiring the College Park Woods Swim Club for public use.
Two years after the city began negotiations with the swim club, the property — located at 3545 Marlbrough Way — will become a city-owned public space.
By acquiring the swim club property, the city can ensure residents of College Park Woods can continue using a clubhouse located on the property as a public meeting space.
Before the vote, the council held a public hearing to allow community members to express their concerns.
“Residents of College Park Woods are very concerned about … how the property is going to be used, not only now, but also in the future,” District 4 resident Oscar Gregory said.
Gregory said he was initially in favor of the city’s acquisition of the property but would like the city to guarantee the property would not be sold to developers for profit.
Mayor Patrick Wojahn mentioned resident Steve Lomax, who wrote an email opposing approval of the ordinance. Lomax declined to comment.
“The city does not need to get involved in bailing out private property owners at the expense of taxpayers,” Lomax wrote. “The spending trends of the City are unsustainable, imprudent, and excessive.”
The city does not need any more public meeting spaces and should consider selling property rather than buying more, Lomax wrote.
District 4 Councilwoman Mary Cook said there are households in the area that do not have as many amenities as households in other districts, despite paying “huge amounts of money in taxes.” City Manager Scott Somers said the College Park Woods community is relatively isolated and has no other closed meeting spaces in the area.
Somers said the ordinance is already written such that the city has to continue to use the property for the public good. Because the property was acquired for a public purpose to preserve open space and provide community meeting space, the city isn’t able to sell the property to a private developer and build single-family homes on it, Somers said.
Acquiring the property and carrying out any necessary improvements will likely cost between $500,000 and $750,000, Somers said. The acquisition costs will be funded through Program Open Space, a state grant fund, he added.
As a result, the city will not be able to do anything on the property that is not consistent with the program guidelines for 25 years, city attorney Suellen Ferguson said. The program states the grant money can only be spent on recreation land or open spaces such as community gardens, parks or swimming pools.
“I am very happy that this is almost to fruition and that we will be able to move forward on the meeting space and other amenities for that property,” Cook said.
While the city owns the pool, there is no set closing date on the acquisition, Somers said. Because of uncertainty over who owned the swim club property previously, the transfer of ownership is held up in court.