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Caution urged in sale of Eleanor Park property

Posted on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Concerned citizens objected last week to a proposed sale of the town-owned Eleanor Park, a former mobile home park in Colonial Beach.

“I don’t think there should ever be haste in selling a town property off; that is a forever decision,” Wanda Goforth told the Colonial Beach Town Council members and a crowd of approximately 80 citizens at the regular October council meeting.

Goforth, a candidate for town council, went on to say that if the town absolutely must sell the land it should wait until the real estate market rebounds.

Eleanor Park was formerly a mobile home park that housed a number of residents. In 2006, town council decided to sell the park and forced all those who lived there to move. Not long after the final resident moved out, the real estate market collapsed and the town decided to hang onto the 3.47 acres of land, which could hold 17 building lots.

Diane Pearson, who stated she had been coming to council meetings for 55 years, asked that council hold onto the land in case the town needed collateral should it need to borrow money in the future. She also reminded the council that prior to the removal of the mobile homes, the town was receiving rent payments, as well as water and sewer payments from the residents of Eleanor Park.

Trish King asked that the land be possibly turned into a community center as the town does not have one at this time. She also stated that the land could be turned into a future income stream if the town were to not sell it off at this time.

Linda Chiarello, wife of town council member Jim Chiarello, asked that the town council set a referendum for 2014 so that the town citizens could decided on what to do with the property. Several other citizens agreed with the idea of a referendum.

Council member Gary Seeber reminded those present that nothing would be done on this issue prior to the new council taking their seats on Jan. 1, 2013. Chiarello asked that a committee of citizens be put together to get a better idea of what the citizens, as a whole, wish to do with the land.

Seeber then stated that the planning commission should be brought into the decision and asked the council for their thoughts. Council decided to send the issue to the planning commission for their input prior to anything further being done.

Following the discussion on Eleanor Park, the floor was opened for questions on the proposal for the Klotz Building by the Paul Stefan Foundation. Diane Pearson reminded council that the building was the first school in Colonial Beach and is in part of the town’s historic district. Wanda Goftorth stated that she had some reservations about the building being a home for “unwed” mothers and asked that there be a strict code of conduct for those who lived there.

Randy James, the founder of PSF, said that the foundation had saved 150 women and babies since its founding.

“If we save the women, we save the baby,” James said, prior to telling council that there would be three to four women in the home at a time and that they would each be there for around two years.

He also said that they work to help the women get an education, a job, and meet their needs while they live in the home.