Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Update: Surf City pays Batts family half-million dollars for 60-acre property to build new park

The purchased property sits directly south of the Surf City Community Center. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Town of Surf City)
The purchased property sits directly south of the Surf City Community Center. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Town of Surf City)

Update at 4:19 p.m., Tuesday — According to Town Manager Kyle Breuer, the land was appraised at $530,000 and purchased by the town for $550,000. Roughly 25 acres of the northern tract was valued at $480,000 and 35 acres of the southern tract, estimated to consist largely of wetlands, was valued at $50,000.

Councilwoman Teresa Batts said she was lifelong friends with members of the Batts Family Corporation and the Batts family, and also described the connection as a “working relationship.”

Asked if she felt it necessary to avoid any dealings with the transaction, Batts replied, “[Town Manager] Kyle Breuer was more than capable of working with the attorney to initiate and execute this project for the Town. I nor any Council member dealt with the Corporation throughout the process, updates were provided as needed to authorize steps and actions moving forward.”

She said that when her marriage to a member of the Batts family ended, she kept the last name, her maiden name being Batson.

SURF CITY — The town of Surf City has purchased 60 acres of land from the Batts Family Corporation for a future park.

The town negotiated a final sales price of $550,000, according to Town Manager Kyle Breuer.

Parks and Recreation Director Chad Merritt said the land, which sits directly southwest of the Surf City Community Center, was purchased on Wednesday.

The park’s preliminary design includes a skatepark, sand volleyball courts, playground walking trails, and the relocation of the town’s disc golf course.

“We’re very pleased to be able to work with the Batts Family on securing this land,” Mayor Doug Medlin said. “It was important that their legacy continues, and Surf City will be proud to help them do that by making sure this land is used for parks and recreation for years to come. As Surf City continues to grow, we’ll be able to expand our recreation opportunities for our current and future citizens.”

In a Wednesday press release, the town did not disclose whether Councilwoman Teresa Batts was involved in the purchase. When reached on Thursday morning, Town Manager Kyle Breuer said Batts, although sharing the same name as Batts Properties, “is in no manner associated with this transaction and received no financial benefit.”

Along with her town duties, Batts owns Teresa Batts Real Estate.

According to Merritt, Surf City has applied for grant funding from multiple agencies, including the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and Land and Water Conservation Fund, to offset the cost of the purchase and the future development of the park.

The additional properties will nearly triple the amount of park land at the Community Center and Athletic Complex site, according to Merritt.

The purchase comes after Town Council approved of a Parks and Recreation Open Space Master Plan in June 2019, guiding the future recreation needs of the community.

According to the release, Breuer was instrumental in the land acquisition since his January hiring. Before his job as the town manager, he was the planning director for Pender County for roughly a decade.

Merritt said the comprehensive master plan was also crucial in moving the project forward.

“[I]t is a tool developed from the voice of the community, and it is our job to implement it. I am excited for Surf City; we have been waiting for a long time,” Merritt said.

The Batts Family Corporation was created by the late Earl G. Batts and wife, Inez S. Batts, in 1974, according to the town.

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