South Charlotte

Town, Wake County School Board have agreement for land deal

The town of Matthews and the Wake County School Board have reached a tentative agreement that should bring a new park to the Rice Road area of Matthews.

If no one turns in an upset bid by Jan. 30 at 9 a.m., the deal will be sealed and the park built on land once owned by former N.C. House Speaker Jim Black.

In 2009, Black turned over the 9.5 acres at 2432 Rice Road to the Wake County school system to settle a portion of the $1 million fine he was assessed in his state corruption case.

The school system got the land because fines in criminal cases go to school systems and Wake County was the county where Black was convicted.

Both the Wake County School Board and the town of Matthews had the land appraised. The school system's appraisal came to $341,000 and the town's to $335,000.

After a lower offer by the town was declined, the two parties agreed on a $338,000 purchase price, the average of the two appraisals.

The town has put down a $17,000 deposit on the land and is applying for a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant to cover half the cost. But even if the grant isn't approved, which the town won't know until May, the town still plans to purchase the property.

Matthews Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resource Director Lee Tillery says the deal is just too good to pass up.

"Park land is at a premium in Matthews, and in this area of town there is not much land available.

"This land fits into our master plan beautifully, and is perfect for a neighborhood park," said Tillery.

Matthews commissioners formally approved the details of the agreement at their meeting the evening of Jan. 23. In other business, commissioners:

Heard a presentation from leaders of the Matthews Free Medical Clinic. The clinic officials say that their volume of patients continues to rise and that they have outgrown their current location. They are looking for a larger location in Matthews.

Approved design and style of wayfaring signs for the town. After sign design and locations are finalized, the plans will be brought back to the board for approval.

The first phase, which includes 37 signs, is expected to cost a little more than $110,000. Town leaders hope to have those directional signs in place before Labor Day weekend, in time for Matthews Alive! and the Democratic National Convention.