Last December, the town of Leesburg denied a developer's proposal to build 96 homes on the former Westpark Golf Club property, and now the town is considering purchasing it.
Chuck Kuhn, owner of JK Moving Services, working through his Leesburg attorney David Moyes, sent a letter on May 11 to the town offering the approximately 134-acre Westpark Golf Club property to the town for $3.4 million.
Kuhn said the property is currently under contract, and he is in the process of placing it under conservation easement.
"I'm very excited about having it under contract and am hopeful the town of Leesburg will purchase it post easement," Kuhn told the Times-Mirror. "This is a great open space which needs to be protected and will be a great park for the community to enjoy."
Kuhn will retain an approximately eight-acre commercial site, which he said he is unsure of how it will be used. He said he is waiting to see what happens after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kuhn said the goal with Westpark is to protect it from development and hopefully to give a park back to the community, which is why he is willing to sell it to the town for less than market value.
Developer CalAtlantic Homes, later merged with Lennar Corporation, entered into a contract purchase of Westpark golf course in late 2017. The course officially closed last September.
Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk told the Times-Mirror that Westpark will be a discussion item during council's May 26 meeting.
The mayor said she believes it is an excellent opportunity, calling it a legacy project to leave for many generations to come.
According to the letter from Kuhn's attorney, the town has until July 1 to respond to the proposal.
“I'm hopeful [council] will realize this is an opportunity that won't come along again. It is an opportunity to save some parkland, and the need for parkland has become very clear during this pandemic,” Burk said.
Vice Mayor Fernando “Marty” Martinez sounded keenly interested in Kuhn's offer. He said he'd like to see as much open space preserved as possible.
“We need as much as we can, and there are all kinds of opportunity there,” he said.
Martinez supports Mayor Burk's outreach to residents through social media to join in the discussion about Westpark.
“It's a great way to at least get us to know the direction of what residents are thinking. It's been positive,” he said.
Councilman Tom Dunn offered his comments to the Times-Mirror, saying he feels it is a shame the idea has not been brought before the Town Council sooner, even though he said the mayor has been working on it for months.
"This is only one thing, an election year stunt designed to turn well-meaning citizens who are not at fault and unknowingly turn into a mob by the mayor," Dunn said.
He said the costs involved with purchasing Westpark need to be studied closely.
"And the real corruption is this land could have been free except that the mayor, with the former town attorney, forced the town into a no negotiation process due to self imposed town regulations," Dunn said. "The mayor has not shown any ability to make good deals and now wants Leesburg taxpayers to help a millionaire with a financial deal to his benefit with the fear tactic of 'we will lose this land.' ... I put before council over a year ago the suggestion that we rezone this property recreation open space so it could never be 'lost,' but Council voted down that suggestion."
Clarification: This article has been updated to clarify CalAtlantic Homes' involvement with the Westpark property in 2017.