With the Leesburg Town Council’s showing waning interest the purchase of the former Westpark Golf Club property, the man behind the deal is also uncertain of how he will move forward.
In an email toLoudoun Now,JK Moving Services CEO Chuck Kuhn said he is unsure how, or if, he will proceed with the purchase of the former golf club property, given the lack of a majority on the council in buying part of the land from him.
Monday night, only three of the six council members expressed an interest in moving forward in exploring the purchase of 134 acres of the land from Kuhn, the contract purchaser on the property. Kuhn said he intended to pursue a conservation easement for that portion of the property before turning it over to the town and would retain eight acres of commercial land on the property. He is asking the town for $3.4 million to purchase the majority of the land from him.
“It is undetermined if we will continue the purchase,” Kuhn said Wednesday. “If we do continue with the purchase, we will not place the property into conservation easement if the town does not have a desire to purchase it post-easement for the community’s enjoyment. Post easement would have protected the land and made it significantly more affordable for the town.”
Kuhn also denied any interest in pursuing residential development on the property, a suggestion made Monday by Councilman Ron Campbell, who posited that if Kuhn were allowed to develop some housing units on the property the town might acquire the property at a lower price.
While Kuhn has been a major land purchaser in recent years, those properties have not been put into development. He has acquired several large rural tracts, placed them under conservation easement and then returned them to community use. Those include the JK Community Farm near Round Hill and the JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary, which sold to the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy.
Those on the council who have supported acquisition of the Westpark land, which operated as a golf course for more than 50 years until its closure last year, have stated their desire for the property maintained as open space or a new town park. But some on the council dais have voiced concerns with the cost of acquiring the land in the midst of a global pandemic, when town revenues are already down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the council’s work session Monday night, Mayor Kelly Burk, Vice Mayor Marty Martinez, and Councilman Neil Steinberg were the only ones to voice support for moving forward with exploring the purchase. Whether the council continues to explore the matter may depend on finding a critical fourth vote, with the council expected within the next month to appoint someone to fill the seat left vacant by Josh Thiel’s resignation in May.