MJ park

A view of the lake at the 22-acre Lyons estate in south Mt. Juliet that has been offered for sale as a new park for the city. SUBMITTED

The City of Mt. Juliet has been on a three-year quest to find land for more parks and has tapped two potential properties for City Manager Kenny Martin to begin negotiations for possible purchase.

District 4 Commissioner Jennifer Milele submitted a resolution to explore purchasing 8.64 acres of land located at the corner of Tate Lane and West Division Street. It’s adjacent to the city’s newly constructed greenway and near Victory Baptist Church.

The owner of a 22-acre property in South Mt. Juliet says he has agreed to sell that land to the city at a price lower than its appraised value.

District 3 Commissioner Art Giles said he liked the Tate Lane property.

“It will also provide a good parking area for the new greenway trailhead,” he said.

The Tate Lane parcel’s purchase price is $430,000, according to Mt. Juliet Parks Director Rocky Lee.

“We have been looking for land nearly three years now,” he said. “These nearly nine acres we need for multi-purpose sports fields. We need them now.”

Lee said this parcel was the only one the Parks Board and Land Search Committee wanted the city to concentrate on at this time.

On a Facebook Live appearance, Mt. Juliet Parks Board Chairman Tina Hutsenpillar said that the board preferred the Tate Lane property over the South Mt. Juliet property.

“Our job is to go out and find land, it’s our purpose,” she said. “We’ve spent hours and we showed a list of eight properties. We’ve spent hours to come up with the best use of tax payer money.

“We decided only this at this time (to purchase the Tate Lane property),” she said. “… We had already decided the (South Mt. Juliet) property was not a good use of money.”

Milele added an amendment to her resolution for the board to add the South Mt. Juliet property for consideration. It’s on the south side of Mt. Juliet at 1041 South Rutland Rd. It’s 22 acres with a stocked six-acre lake, a 10,000-square-foot residence, a barn, pool and a guest house in disrepair. It’s owned by Richard and Lori Lyons.

Richard Lyons said the property has been appraised at $2.6 million ($1.3 million for 1.84 acres of land and the house and the other 20 acres for $1.3 million), but he has agreed to sell it to the city for $2.3 million.

The city parks fund is built from hotel/motel taxes set aside for parks. Mt. Juliet Finance Director Dana Hire said as of June 4 that fund has $2.884 million, with a projected $6.5 million in 2021.

“The guest house in bad shape,” Lyons said.

He said when they bought the property their intention was to demolish it. Lee estimated the cost to refurbish it would be about $100,000.

The house is two stories with an elevator.

“To avoid putting in a very expensive elevator for ADA compliance, it was suggested the upstairs access be office for city staff,” Milele said. “That way, someone would be on location at all times.”

Milele said the lake could “definitely be for public fishing and a possible revenue source.” She added if the guest house is torn down, possibly a bait shop could be put on the foundation slab.

Mayor Ed Hagerty agreed.

“A miniature Radnor Lake is what I’m envisioning,” he said.

Lee indicated the biggest issue is that it would be “astronomical to make the house ADA compliant. Our Land Search Committee turned this parcel down. We offered $2 million in the search process and the Lyons turned it down. “

He said the city is currently focusing on the Tate’s Lane parcel, but “would go back and talk to the Lyons.”

Hagerty said he is in favor of negotiating both parcels.

“For 20 years, 10 as a commissioner and 10 as mayor, my goal was to secure park and I feel we are on the cusp,” he said.

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