The Aiken City Council Chamber was packed with residents who were waiting to hear if an undeveloped portion of the Green Boundary Club was going to be sold to the City.
Council unanimously approved the resolution to purchase approximately 3 acres of land at the corner of Whiskey Road and Mead Avenue, which has been used frequently for event parking for Hopelands Gardens and the Rye Patch.
The City has agreed to pay $236,687 out of Capital Project Sales Tax II funds designated for greenways and open space. The land was appraised at $260,000.
The City has had a lease with the Club since 1999 to use that tract of land for parking purposes. City Manager Richard Pearce said the land would remain undeveloped – it would not be paved or turned into a parking lot.
In the agreement approved by Council, the Club will reserve the right to continue using that tract of land as long as it doesn't conflict with City or community use as well as use the existing roadway from the Clubhouse to Mead Avenue.
“This is an opportunity to preserve an essential part of Aiken's historic downtown environment,” said Green Boundary Board of Governors member Cody Anderson. “I think it's a win-win for the Green Boundary Club and the community.”
Green Boundary Club Member Pat Paterniti, who's also a member of the City's Board of Zoning Appeals, said he encouraged Council to approve the motion but is concerned with what will happen to the rest of the property years later. He suggested that the City add a stipulation that the remaining 6 acres remain intact and not divided for development.
Another resident stepped up to the podium to agree with Paterniti, stating it will help maintain the Club's integrity.
Council members said that such a stipulation has not been discussed between the City and the Club so it would not be addressed at the meeting.
Pat Blewett, vice president of the Green Boundary Club, confirmed the sale was to raise capital for the Club but that it's nobody's intention to “carve” the remainder of the land up in the future and sell plots for such things as the construction of a home.
Jack Wetzel, president of the Green Boundary Club, said the proposal for the land that was in question on Monday is to simply use it in the future exactly in the same manner that in has been used in the past.
Councilman Philip Merry suggested to obtain an easement, rather than buy the land, so the City can maintain the open space and it would still belong to the membership.
Pearce pointed out that the Capital Project Sales Tax item on the ballot approved by residents stated that the funds be used for acquisition and not an easement. The vote on Monday was final – the resolution does not require a second reading.
The Green Boundary Club, located on Whiskey Road, was established as a “supper club” in 1956 by Seymour H. Knox Sr. and a few of his friends. The house itself was constructed in 1927 and designed by Willis Irvin.