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Granite Shoals parkland issue moves forward with lease agreement

Granite Shoals City Councilors Steve Hougen and Samantha Ortis

Granite Shoals City Councilor Steve Hougen presents a solution to the ongoing problem of Lot 51 in Granite Shoals. The 0.14-acre lot is part of Timberhill Park and lies in the backyard of Yvett and Corby Daughtrey. It is separated from the rest of the park by an inlet of water and a concrete bulkhead and is inaccessible to the public except by water. Because of the difficulty of selling city parkland, Hougen and the Parks Advisory Committee suggested a lease agreement could be the answer. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Granite Shoals City Council voted to lease rather than sell a sliver of parkland to an adjacent landowner during its regular meeting on Tuesday, July 26. 

The sale of the 0.14-acre Lot 51, which is part of Timberhill Park, to adjacent landowners Yvett and Corby Daughtrey has been on multiple council agendas throughout the year without resolution. With a 5-2 vote, the council passed a motion for City Attorney Joshua Katz and Interim City Manager Peggy Smith to draft a special lease agreement between the city and the Daughtreys. 

Councilor Steve Hougen presented the lease proposal with a summation of the unique issues and possible solutions concerning the piece of land that were discussed July 21 during a Parks Advisory Committee, which was tasked with coming up with a recommendation. 

During its meeting, the committee voted 5-2 to recommend leasing it to the Daughtreys under special conditions.

The 0.14 acre of land behind the Daughtreys’ home is technically within the boundaries of Timberhill Park but is separated from the park by an inlet of water on Lake LBJ. While it is city-owned parkland, it has never been used or acknowledged as such and is inaccessible to the public except by boat or trespassing on private property. It contains a concrete bulkhead along the shoreline and an abandoned building.

The city cannot sell parkland without a public vote on the matter, according to Texas Local Government Code, Hougen pointed out.

His solution was to enter into a special lease agreement between the city and the Daughtreys that would give the Daughtreys exclusive surface rights but not allow for any structures on the sliver of land. The current building on the property will be removed at the city’s expense. 

The Daughtreys will be responsible for continued maintenance of the property and will need to consult with the city about any plants they might want to add. 

Councilors Aaron Garcia and Samantha Ortis voted against the lease agreement. 

“I believe that this particular part of property by the Daughtreys’ house is no special use for the city or any use at all as parkland,” Garcia said. “It is my opinion that we should allow the Daughtreys to purchase that piece of property based on the special circumstances of this piece of property.”

“There is a certain sacred attitude about parkland, and it is very difficult to sell parkland,” Hougen replied. “If it is decertified as a park, that is a ploy that has been used by previous city councils to sell city parkland.”

An outcry from the public on the evaluation of parkland caused trouble at a council meeting in November 2021 when then-City Manager Jeff Looney brought it up for discussion. The council moved to have Katz draft a resolution to discourage the sale of parkland at a council meeting in February of this year.

A fair market evaluation of the 0.14 acre will be conducted to determine the terms of the lease. A rough estimate of $162,000 was given during Tuesday’s meeting. The land was valued at $99,192.78 in 2007 when the city offered to sell it to the previous owners of the Cedar Hill Drive property where the Daughtreys now live.

The Daughtreys expressed a desire to ultimately purchase the land but said they will accept the council’s decision if it comes down to agreeable lease terms.

“We would absolutely prefer to buy the property outright at a reasonable price,” Corby Daughtrey said. “However, we do feel like the recommendation from the parks committee is reasonable and acceptable.”

dakota@thepicayune.com

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