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Flat Rock to buy golf course land for $1.15 million

FLAT ROCK — The Flat Rock Village Council has agreed to buy the Highland Lake Golf Club property for $1.15 million in a sale that is expected to close by June 30.

The Village Council approved the purchase terms on Monday during a meeting to set its next regular council agenda. The sale involves all of the 66-acre property and the buildings and other improvements except for the pole barn and practice range lights, which the seller will remove at no cost to Flat Rock.
The sale agreement culminates a six-month process that started when Mayor Bob Staton and the council formed the Highland Lake Park Advisory Committee to examine whether the town should buy the golf course for use as a passive park. The advisory said yes, after gathering information and soliciting feedback from town residents.
The owners of the golf course, Jim Sparks and Tom Davis and their company, Course Doctors Inc., agreed to an installment purchase under which the village will pay $525,000 at closing, $425,000 in January 2014 and $150,000 in January 2015. The council on Monday authorized the town clerk to write a check for $50,000 as earnest money to secure the deal before closing.
Highland Lake Golf Club will remain open for golf and run by the current owners until Sept. 30. The golf course operators will lease back the property for $500 plus property taxes from the closing until they vacate the property on Nov. 15 or before. Flat Rock must pay for environmental testing, title search and a survey.
Residents need not get their park walking togs on yet.
"We won't have possession until November and we have a number of steps to take in the meantime," Mayor Staton said. "We are going to form a parks and recreation advisory committee and I think about four members of the exploratory have indicated an interest in continuing to serve. We are going to form a non-profit corporation like Friends of the Park at Flat Rock as a 501c3 to raise funds for the park."
The council and others have used the name Highland Lake Park but Staton said many residents have expressed the opinion that Flat Rock should be in the name. It could be called the Park at Flat Rock, he said.
Staton said he expected the council to begin deliberations on how much to budget for park development in the 2013-14 fiscal year.
"We will have a many month period to adopt a master plan for the park," he said. "We have a concept plan for the park. We will need to formalize a master plan."
The exploratory committee recommended that the village development park in phases that would include walking trails, a playground, picnic areas and other improvements at a cost of about $1.6 million.
While they did not rule out a tax increase, Village Council members said they thought the village could buy the land and improve it without raising taxes. Flat Rock has a $4.487 million fund balance, which grows by about $140,000 a year. The town could use the fund balance to pay for park development, operations and maintenance through 2019 and still have a balance of $3 million, vice mayor Nick Weedman said.
The village has submitted an application for a state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant of $475,000.