LAWRENCEVILLE -- Despite opposing arguments from a councilman and the mayor, the Gwinnett Water and Sewerage Authority signed off Monday on the sale of land from a former sewage plant to the city of Lilburn for a tourist attraction.
Commissioners are scheduled to make the final decision Tuesday on the $1.3 million deal.
"It'll be a premiere site for an economic lift in the city," Mayor Johnny Crist said of buying the 37.6 acres along Indian Trail Road. "It sits at such a strategic location for us."
While the proposed sale is to the city's downtown development authority, Crist said the city intends to pass along the expense of the land to a developer, which is in negotiations with the city and Big League Dreams, a company that has brought replica ballfields to the West Coast.
Councilman Thomas Wight asked the authority to delay its decision, after constituents reached out to him about questions of the property's value and the deal.
Last year, contractors dismantled the Jackson Creek Water Reclamation Facility, after upgrades to the county sewer system left it dispensible. The land is appraised at $2 million, but a required environmental remediation of the land is expected to cost $690,000. The authorities agreed to a $1.31 million price tag.
"It's really a question of timing (not price)," Water and Sewerage Authority Chairman Michael Sullivan said. "If we conducted (the work) ourselves, we would merely add that back in."
He added that the water authority's decision was not about the viability of the project but if the sale was in the best interest of water and sewer customers.
"For the public as a whole, this is probably a good thing for the site to be cleaned up quickly ... and for Lilburnites to be able to enjoy it," authority member Chip Randall added, commenting on the plan for the ballfields to be built by next year.