Gwinnett will spend $12.5 million to buy park land

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Tuesday agreed to spend $12.5 million to buy more than 155 acres for parks in Lawrenceville and Sugar Hill.

Commissioners voted unanimously to spend $2.5 million to buy five parcels totaling 102.4 acres along the Alcovy River east of the Gwinnett County Airport in Lawrenceville to use for a trail network. The current owner is Rooker Gwinnett LLC.

County Commissioner John Heard, who represents the district, said the parcels are mostly low-lying flood plain in the Progress Center area. He said the county will use most of the land to build trails that would link to existing Lawrenceville trails that run to nearby Rhodes Jordan Park. Eventually, Heard said, the trails could link to county trails near Buford and the Mall of Georgia.

Heard said two of the tracts are developable and the county likely would resell them.

“It’s mostly flood plain and we can get it for, not quite a song, but pretty close,” he said. “We’re taking advantage of an opportunity.”

Commissioners also voted unanimously to finalize the purchase of the 53.2-acre E.E. Robinson Park from the City of Sugar Hill. Commissioners originally authorized the purchase for $10 million in November 2014.

Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash said the sale was put on hold because of a lawsuit that sought to prevent the city from selling it. The lawsuit resulted in a consent order that, among other things, requires Gwinnett County to continue to use the property as a public park for 50 years and requires it to keep the name E.E. Robinson Park.

The money for both purchases would come from a 2009 voter-approved special sales tax for capital projects.

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