Town Council Purchases 20 Acres For Future West Smithfield Park

Land Is Located Within 100 Year Floodplain

The Smithfield Town Council has agreed to buy two adjacent 10 acre tracts of land for a future park in West Smithfield. The two parcels, which combined total 20.08 acres, is currently owned by Cornerstone Faith Fellowship and is located on the south side of Highway 210, just off Highway 70 West, and behind a recently developed apartment complex.

Parks & Recreation Director Gary Johnson told council members that having additional land for future park use in the West Smithfield area is important.  The Town has only one park in West Smithfield – Gertrude Johnson Park.

Currently, the Town leases the property where Gertrude Johnson Park is located for the price of the property taxes.  If the property owners ever decided to end the lease, the Town would have 12 months to vacate.

A sketch of how a new park could look one day on Highway 210 near Smithfield.

In a November 2019 closed session, the Council agreed to negotiate with representatives of Cornerstone Faith Fellowship to purchase the land, accessible off Highway 210 by a 50 foot easement.  The Town conducted an appraisal and determined the land was worth $4,000 per acre.  The church agreed to sell the property for $80,000, the appraised value.

The Town will use restricted funds set aside from the sale of Bingham Park, which was at one time located on Hospital Road. The Bingham Park property was purchased by Johnston Memorial Hospital and is now the site of the SECU Hospice House.  About $470,000 remains in a fund balance, which was set aside for future park land and park improvements in Smithfield.

The entire 20 acre parcel on Highway 210 is within the 100 year floodplain.  Councilman David Barbour questioned whether the future park site would be subject to flooding.  Planning Director Stephen Wensman confirmed that any building constructed on the property would likely have to be elevated several feet, but added that it was unlikely any structure would be built on the property other than open-type buildings such as shelters.

Mayor Andy Moore questioned whether the 50 foot easement to the property off Highway 210 would ever be an issue. Wensman and town attorney Bob Spence said the easement was not a concern.

The Council voted unanimously on Feb. 4th to spend $80,000 from the restricted park and recreation fund balance to purchase the Highway 210 land.