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A stretch of beach, a stand of trees, and done

The $8 million open space fund will be exhausted after

one more purchase.

Some want more beaches, others more forest, still others trails.

Islanders will get a little bit of each, if the City Council approves what could be the final purchase under the city’s four-year-old land preservation program.

The Open Space Commission this week is recommending purchase of approximately four acres of land in three south-end parcels owned by Morrie and Kathy Blossom.

Two shoreline parcels of under an acre would double the length of what is now a 100-foot strip of public beach off Point White Drive, just west of Lynwood Center, and would preserve an upland area next to Schel-Chelb Estuary. The other parcel would bring into the city fold some 3.32 heavily wooded acres on Sullivan Road, off Crystal Springs and directly adjacent to Gazzam Lake Park.

The properties offer “outstanding opportunities” for trail linkages, open space commissioners say – and they come at a significant discount.

“It’s terrific – very charitable,” commission chair Andy Maron said of the Blossoms’ offer to sell the parcels to the city for $550,000, about $290,000 below their appraised value.

The purchases are also significant in that they will officially exhaust the city’s open space fund – actually pushing it into the red.

Since island voters approved an $8 million open space preservation fund in 2001, the commission has brokered the purchase or acceptance by donation of 17 parcels totaling 238 acres, at a cost of $7.74 million.

That leaves some $260,000 in the kitty, less than is needed to complete the Blossom purchases. The commission will ask the council Wednesday for a temporary interfund loan from the city’s general fund to cover the deal.

The money would be recouped by selling off less-desirable corners of several of the properties as building lots, commissioners say. Also recommended for sale is T’Chookwap Park on Spargur Loop Road, since the city purchased a larger waterfront parcel around the corner last month.

Open Space Commission member Dwight Sutton said the commission now will turn its attention to trail connections.

Also at issue is the stewardship of some of the open space parcels. Purchase of the Point White properties, for example, would allow creation of a pocket park for Lynwood Center residents and a small parking area for beach access. As the area was recently sewered, a public restroom could also be installed.

Sutton, who championed the land preservation bond in his final months as mayor, said he was pleased with the results now that the $8 million is used up.

He credited the “enormous cooperation” of the community in identifying parcels for preservation. The program has created four new waterfront parks and saved sizeable swaths of woodlands across the island.

“It’s been a fun thing, and I think we’ve had a lot of good reaction from people who’ve gotten out and said, ‘Hey, I’ve been out and walked the trail and it’s great – we did a good thing,’” Sutton said. “I hope that will be echoed another 25 years down the pike as well.”

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