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Clermont may lease county land for recreation
4 acres will remain with Hall
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Clermont Mayor James Nix has visions of soccer fields and walking trails in the tiny North Hall town.

And pending a decision tonight by the Hall County Board of Commissioners to lease property purchased for a future county-operated park, those visions might become a reality.

The board will vote on a 25-year lease agreement at its 6 p.m. meeting today.

If the lease is approved, it will be the first sign of progress on the Main Street Clermont property since it was purchased for a library and a park in 2007.

"We're definitely a long way from ever developing it," said Commissioner Scott Gibbs, whose commission district includes Clermont. "So this is a good use."

The property, part of a 40-acre tract the county bought using special purpose local option sales tax funds sidles up to a current park owned by the city.

Like the county, Clermont officials don't currently have a lot of money to put into the park's development, but Nix said city officials will start by "cleaning it up," if the lease is approved today.

Part of the lease agreement requires the city to keep the property maintained and mow its rights-of-way.

Nix said he hopes residents will pitch in on the park's development after that.

The proposed lease agreement also calls for Clermont to pay the county $10 a year for the property and gives the county the right to regain control of the property with 12 months notice.

"We just have to look at the total thing, and maybe people in Clermont will volunteer to help on some stuff," Nix said. "They've done it on other projects and that's what it might take to make this come to (fruition)."

Nix hopes to use the park to bring new activities to North Hall. A planned park on Nopone Road includes baseball fields, but Nix wants to make it possible for North Hall residents to play soccer without traveling south of Gainesville to Allen Creek Soccer Complex.

"I just think it'd be good to have some other activities for people at this end of the county," Nix said.

"...This is just another way that the town's trying to provide things for the people of this area."

The lease agreement also stipulates that outside-city residents will be able to use the park.

"It's not something that we're just doing for the city people," Nix said. "It'd be for the whole area here."

Four acres of the property will remain in county control for the construction of a future library, "if and when there is ever money to build" the library, Gibbs said.

County plans for a library on the property were once abandoned but revived late last year after Clermont officials and residents put up a fight for the project.