Mebane looking to acquire veteran's group property for Community Park

City of Mebane town leaders came to the American Legion Post 95 meeting last week to ask the servicemen if they would consider allowing the City to utilize a 1.5 acre tract (identified in black, bottom square) for parking for the new Mebane Community Park. The American Legion, who already sold some land to the City in the planning stages of the Community Park, has the option to sell the land to Mebane, or potentially set up a leasing situation. No formal decision was made on the proposal at the March 28 session.

Mebane City Council member Everette Greene, accompanied by Mebane City Manager David Cheek and Assistant City Manager Chris Rollins, came before the local American Legion Post 95 last Thursday evening to discuss the possibility of the American Legion providing more land to the City. Mebane city leaders are seeking to utilize an additional 1.5 acres of American Legion property, situated nearby the new Mebane Community Park along West Clay Street, for the purposes of parking. 

Greene explained to the servicemen and servicewomen onhand at the American Legion meeting that some of the events that the Community Park anticipates hosting - particularly large soccer tournaments - will bring such large crowds that parking will be an ongoing concern. 

“We had 106 soccer teams here a couple of weeks ago. That many people, we really don’t have enough parking,” Greene said. “We were curious if you all might have any interest in doing something together with us - some way we could possibly get that (1.5 acre tract) - and some more - for parking. It’s just something to think about. If you would consider it, we would appreciate it.”

The parcel of land that the city leaders are interested in is across the road from the American Legion’s complex at 506 West Clay Street. 

“It’s mainly the piece across the street - I think you all would probably keep the piece (of land) next to you in case you ever want to expand,” Assistant City Manager Rollins said. 

The American Legion didn’t make any formal decisions on a proposed real estate deal with the City at Thursday’s meeting, but they have a variety of options at their disposal. They could sell the property directly to the City, they could lease it, or they could decide to sit on the property and hold onto it. 

“If we decided to lease, would the city attorneys be the ones to decide what would be a reasonable lease amount?” American Legion member Ted Zeller asked Rollins. 

“I think we would probably first try to buy it outright,” Rollins responded. “At this point, this is just an idea. It’s not been approved by the (City) Council.  It’s not in the budget. I think we would rather buy it, but we would entertain a lease if that’s what you want to do. We’re flexible. We just wanted to put a bug in your ear. If you’re interested in doing something, we would be interested in buying it, or leasing it.” 

“I think we would probably put this in the form of a Committee to study a lease proposition. And your lawyers would be helping establish what would be a fair lease amount,” Zeller said in response to Rollins. 

“I think what we would probably do, if you (the American Legion) showed interest, we would start working on a rough outline of what we might do. This is just sort of the first step. This will be a very transparent process. We want you to know everything we’re going to do,” City Manager Cheek told the veterans. 

Some members of the organization didn’t seem crazy about the idea of providing Mebane with more property for the new nearby recreational facility. The American Legion sold the City a tract of land a couple years back as they were planning the construction of the Community Park. At that time, there were multiple parking lots planned. But a lack of funds resulted in the scrapping of two lots proposed for the facility. 

“Just a few years ago, we sold you a piece a property. I’m surprised that your planning didn’t include sufficient parking at that time,” one of the American Legion members inquired. 

“I think it did include sufficient parking,” Cheek responded. “But we had to cut out a lot of it, because we didn’t have enough money. Two more parking lots were going to be built on the property we have. So right now, this is just another option. We did have enough parking initially. But like I said, we cut out two parking lots.”

“When you build the other two parking lots that you originally had planned, then I think we could entertain considering allowing you to use more of our property. But until then, I would be against it,” the member said. 

“Why?” responded Greene. 

“Because you didn’t do your planning the in the first place,” the American Legion member said back. 

“We did the planning, but we ran out of money,” Greene said in response. “We can do a lot of things to expand our activities in the park, if we had more property. It’s just something to think about. I don’t know if any of you all have been to the park. The other day it was 50 degrees, and it was packed. You go there, and kids are enjoying it. The parents are enjoying it. They’re riding bikes. It’s really something. It’s something that’s going to really grow. It’s something we’re really going to be proud of.”

“There’s no timeline. It’s not anything immediate,” Rollins added. “We just wanted to let you all know, if you’re thinking about doing something with it, please keep us in mind. We’d really appreciate it.”