Photo by Andrew Wigdor / News Editor
The Murfreesboro City Council approved the purchase of the almost 12 acres of land that includes the Oakland Park wetlands for $300,000 after a unanimous vote.
The vote occurred during the council’s Thursday meeting and was proceeded by a few words by Mayor Shane McFarland.
“We are not in the game of going out to purchase property, but sometimes, unique opportunities come up,” McFarland said.
Murfreesboro currently has over 60 road projects in development, and the wetlands have value as mitigation credits that the City can use to meet state mitigation requirements for the future projects. An estimated 50 acres may need to be acquired to complete the proposed Cherry Lane extension.
City Manager Rob Lyons stated that the wetlands will be preserved as a “natural area,” and the City will look into placing pathways and trail-heads throughout the wetlands.
“With our city growing as fast as it is, we are defiantly experiencing a lot of growing pains in areas that are almost uncomfortable, such as our traffic situation, our schools and living quarters and so on,” Vice Mayor Madelyn Scales-Harris said before the vote. “I am now in my mid 60’s, and I remember driving in Murfreesboro, seeing the beautiful countrysides, seeing beautiful fields and beautiful farm land. With our growth, all of these things seem to be rapidly disappearing. So, I feel that it is very important that we preserve things such as our wetlands, not only for the nature and for the beauty but for our kids to experience.”
The council’s unanimous decision was met with clapping from the “Save Oaklands Park Wetland” group, which attended the meeting. Among that group was Justyna Kostkowska, the MTSU professor and Murfreesboro resident who first created an online petition to save the wetlands from construction and development.
“I’m excited,” Kostkowska said. “We didn’t think that it would be unanimous, but it’s great that it’s unanimous. It’s great to hear the comments that are in the general direction of where the city should go – that it’s not just building, building, building. For our quality of life, we also need the green space … We will take care of the creek … We still have to be on guard about developing it, but, as we heard today, it will be a natural area.”
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