The discussion on whether the town will pursue an opportunity to purchase the former Westpark Golf Club property may be over.
At a Town Council work session Monday night, a vote to move the process forward could not gain interest from a majority of the six town council members, with Mayor Kelly Burk, Councilman Neil Steinberg and Vice Mayor Marty Martinez in support of continuing the discussion. Council members Suzanne Fox, Thomas Dunn and Ron Campbell opposed moving the item forward. Council currently has one open seat after Josh Thiel resigned at the end of May.
Westpark Golf Club has been closed since last September.
In May, Chuck Kuhn, founder of JK Moving Services, approached the town with an offer to purchase 134 acres for $3.4 million. Kuhn developed plans to purchase the property and place the land in conservation easement so it will be protected from development and used as a park for the community. He would retain an approximately eight-acre commercial site for future development.
In a letter to Burk, Kuhn said he is not interested in seeing the site used as a golf course.
The offer from Kuhn has been updated to extend the study period and closing date from July 1 until September 15.
Councilwoman Fox questioned the price tag Kuhn has placed on the property. She said she did not support funding a park in the current economic climate. “It’s not a priority for me,” Fox said.
Steinberg said he supports purchasing the property, or at least continuing the discussions about what options the town can consider with Kuhn.
“Acquiring the property at this point is the most important thing, and to not do so would be an extraordinarily lost opportunity,” Steinberg said.
Campbell said purchasing the property is not “at any level of priority.”
“This gets no votes from me. It has to be the right deal at the right time at the right place and the right price. We have more critical issues to be worried about. Paying that money is just not the way to go,” he said.
Burk expressed her frustration, saying the purpose of the discussion is to continue the conversation.
“We aren’t saying we are going to buy anything. We intend to discuss public uses, and we need an appraisal, funding options, alternate payment programs, ask the county if they are interested, tree and nutrient programs and to ask if Mr. Kuhn is open to negotiations,” she said.
“To lose the opportunity to have a park at that end of town — as we are almost developed out — would be a shame,” she added.
The future of Westpark has been a consistent debate for Leesburg Town Council over the past year.
In December, a proposal by Lennar to build 96 townhomes on the site failed after Leesburg Town Council voted against it 5-2. Lennar’s proposal was to build the townhomes and potentially donate the remaining 130 acres to the town as a park.
Last year, town staff said a potential park would need to go through a master planning process, likely costing $1-$2 million to develop and about $250,000-300,000 annually to maintain.
The property's zoning currently allows for 27 detached homes. Dittmar Company is listed as the owner, according to a town spokeswoman.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated Lennar owns the former Westpark Golf Club property. While Lennar made a development proposal for the land, those plans were not accepted, and Dittmar Company remains the owner of the property.