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City eyes parkland sale

Profile image for By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer
By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer

The Denton City Council will consider today one more item for the November ballot: the sale of 1.7 acres from the southwest side of North Lakes Park.

SSR Group, a local developer, has proposed a land swap with the city that would exchange a triangular-shaped parcel along Bonnie Brae Street for about one-third acre on Riney Road along the northeast edge of the park. The city would likely receive payment for the swap, too, since the parcels are not equal value, according to a staff report.

Philip Baker, Selwyn Rayzor and Sallie Rayzor are SSR group principals. Baker said that the Rayzor family has always helped the city with its needs, including improving its interests in boundary lines.

“Outside of that, we don’t have any thoughts [on the matter],” Baker said.

The parcel lies just south of one of the dams in the park, which means the city can do little more to develop it for recreational programs, said Emerson Vorel, the city’s parks and recreation director.

However, city maps show that the parcel is adjacent to vacant land across the street from Rayzor Ranch Marketplace.

State law does not allow a city to consider selling parkland without asking the voters first.

Council members will consider an ordinance during a special session this afternoon that would declare the land “excess,” which would allow them to order the proposition election.

The council also is expected to officially call the city’s $98.2 million bond election today.

It also will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Depending on the council’s decision over North Lakes Park, Denton voters could see as many as seven propositions on four topics come November. The council has already ordered elections whether to make Denton liquor laws “wet” and to ban hydraulic fracturing in the city limits.

Should the voters approve the park land sale, the City Council would still have to authorize the city manager to close the deal, according to Deputy City Attorney John Knight.

The Soil Conservation Services built the first lakes and dams in northern Denton that would eventually become North Lakes Park.

The city acquired the land in the early 1970s and built the first picnic areas and ball fields in 1992.

The northern parcel could be used to relocate the park’s tennis center, city staff said.

Monday is the last day a Texas governmental entity may order a general election or a special election on a measure for the Nov. 4 ballot.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.