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Future of piece of Wake County land has residents preparing to fight

January 3, 2019

A Wake County commissioner wants to sell a piece of the controversial Crooked Creek Park - land the county just bought last year.

The Crooked Creek Golf Course, off Hilltop Needmore Road west of U.S. Highway 401 in southern Wake County, closed in 2015, and county officials began looking at it in 2017 as a potential site for a future park.

The final vote was 4-3 to buy the land, and the move became an issue in Democratic primaries last May.

The four Democratic commissioners who voted for the plan all faced opposition backed by wealthy donors who said the county should be spending more money on education and not on a failed golf course. Two of the four incumbents, Erv Portman and John Burns, were defeated.

Supporters of park gave every effort to get it, and now they are fighting to keep it.

“We met every condition, and to now have this potentially taken away is really a gut punch,” said Monica Nawojczyk.

“Ultimately, we don’t have parks in this area,” said Andy Sumbrum, who lives in the area.

Wake County Commissioner Greg Ford says it was a mistake to buy the property.

On Facebook, he said the county was forced to “bail out a failed, private neighborhood golf course.” Now, selling the land will “correct egregious and unprecedented action of the prior board’s majority.”

At least one commissioner says residents must speak out to stop the proposal from going through.

“This is a real threat. This is a real possibility,” said Wake County Commissioner Matt Calabria, who represents the area. “We need to value open space, and we need to make sure we preserve it when we can. Once space is gone, it’s gone, and southern Wake County doesn’t have very much open space.”

The group supporting the park has promised litigation if the property sale goes through.

Still, some board members are undecided, including one of the two newest members.

Commissioner Susan Evans also represents part of southern Wake County. In a statement to WRAL News, she said she has meetings scheduled this week on both sides of the issue to learn about the project.

The next chance for public comment on the proposed sale of the land is at the Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday at 5 p.m. at the Wake County Justice Center.

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