LILBURN -- If you listen hard near downtown Lilburn, you can just about hear the crack of a bat.
By a vote of 3 to 1, the Lilburn City Council took a giant step to make that happen Monday night by giving the go-ahead to spend $1.31 million to purchase 38 acres within the city limits to make room for the Big League Dreams baseball sports complex, a project two years in the making.
The city has plans to demolish the old Jackson Creek Water and Sewerage Authority property at Indian Trail Road near Lawrenceville Highway for the baseball fields.
"The property is at the heart of the city," said Mayor Johnny Crist. "We want to use the property for the highest and best use for the city ... we don't want it to get into the wrong hands."
Crist said the city's Downtown Development Authority will sell the property to the complex developer, but if it doesn't work out, the city will get the land back.
"We need to take proactive steps to purchase this prominent piece of real estate," he said.
Councilman Thomas Wight, the lone dissenting vote, disagreed.
"We're entering into the commercial real estate business by spending $1.3 million," he said. "I think it's unwise ... it goes beyond the scope of elected officials."
"I think it is wise to consider this key piece of property," Councilman Tim Dunn said. "We got an attractive offer from Big League Dreams."
In addition to the main purchase price, there will be closing costs not to exceed $5,000, Crist said.
In other business, the council:
-- Agreed to spend $478,000 plus closing costs for the final piece of property at 346 Main Street to house the new eight-acre City Hall/Gwinnett County Library complex.
-- Appointed June Moloney to serve as executive secretary on the Lilburn Merit Board for the remainder of 2012.
-- Listed the following upcoming events: the 39th Annual Lilburn Daze, Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the Community Garage Sale, Oct. 20 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and the Town Hall Meeting, Oct. 22, 7 p.m.