The city has purchased almost 14 acres of land to expand Coffman Park, home of the annual Dublin Irish Festival.

The city has purchased almost 14 acres of land to expand Coffman Park, home of the annual Dublin Irish Festival.

During its meeting Feb. 17, city council approved the $3.8-million purchase of 13.9 acres that is bordered by Perimeter Drive, Commerce Parkway and Post Road.

The acquisition had been in the works for years, city finance director Marsha Grigsby told council members.

According to the staff report presented to council members, the "acquisition has been planned since 2000 with funding from the property tax revenue generated from the city's inside millage being reserved over the past several years for this purpose."

With the economy pulling down land prices, Councilman Richard Gerber questioned the $273,000 per acre price tag and called it "incredibly excessive."

While the most recent assessment of the land gave the acres in the right-of-way a price tag of $250,000 per acre, Grigsby said the acquisition of the rest of the land adds more value to the cost.

Grigsby also told council members the location of the land, which includes frontage on U.S. Route 33 and Interstate 270, makes it more expensive.

Council approved the land purchase with a 6-1 vote, with Gerber casting the dissenting vote.

According to public information officer David Ball, the city has no money budgeted for the land in the five-year capital improvements program, but there are several options in the park master plan.

"The long-term vision for Coffman Park calls for the corner to be developed as parkland including a pond, a rentable space at the pond, a water play area, special needs playground, bike paths, parking and perhaps eventually a new City Hall," he said. "But nothing is in the (capital improvements program) projected in the next five years for that and all those are subject to change."

The 13.9 acres is located near other land purchased by the city for the park addition in 2001.

Ball said the city doesn't have plans for the land in the near future.

"In the immediate future, what's a cornfield will continue to be a cornfield," he said. "The city rents that out and the grassy lawn area that was turned into turf and used for the Irish Festival last year will continue to be turf."

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