The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved the purchase of 12 acres beside C.G. Hill Memorial Park on Balsom Road to ease plans for future park development on the western half of the park property.
The vote was unanimous to pay Antone J. Kajs $350,000 for 12 acres he owns on Balsom Road to the west of the park entrance.
Kajs lives on the property. The county will lease back about 4 acres of the property to Kajs for a term of up to 10 years, to give him time to make plans for his eventual departure.
Kajs will pay the county $2,400 per year to lease back the 4 acres, although the lease will terminate should Kajs die or move out of the house that he lives in.
“It opens up access to Balsom Road,” said Kirby Robinson, the assistant director of general services for Forsyth County. “It will let us get heavy equipment in to make development happen to the western part of the park.”
Currently, the only portion of C.G. Hill that is developed as a park is on the eastern side of the county’s 185-acre site. The park has a fishing pond with a paved path around it, and nearby a tree-lined walking path makes a loop through a big open field.
To the west of the open-field walking path is a large wooded area that the county plans to use for future expansion of the public-use portions of the park.
The master plan for the park includes places for picnic shelters and playgrounds on parts of that western section.
But most of the area on that western side of the property will remain natural, although the county does plan modifications.
The county made a change to its management plans in 2019. Originally, the county had planned to clear-cut much of the land in the western section, but in the updated plan, the hardwood areas will be left alone so that wildlife can take advantage of rotting branches and downed trees.
Areas of Virginia pine will be cut and replaced with better trees: Shortleaf pines with hardwoods mixed in.
A section of the southern end of the park is seen as a possible “forest legacy area” that includes large trees.
Robinson said acquiring the Kajs property now protects an important tract of land that would otherwise limit the park’s frontage on Balsom Road.
The 12-acre tract “is considered to be critical to continue to develop the park,” Robinson said.
Robinson said county officials met with Kajs over a period of months and found out he was willing to sell as long as he could continue to live for a time in his home.
Kajs has a workshop on the property as well as his house, and the lease will allow him to keep those for another 10 years.
Commissioners had originally scheduled Tuesday’s meeting for last Thursday, but canceled it when it appeared that a major winter storm would bring freezing rain and power outages to the area.