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City looking to develop nature park and sanctuary on Gump Road

The city's parks, led by Steve McDaniel, are looking to buy land on Gump Road for a nature preserve. (News-Sentinel.com file photo)

The city will develop a nature park and sanctuary on Gump Road — but not just yet.

On Tuesday, City Council will consider a request from the Parks and Recreation Department to pay $588,232 for 14.75 acres at 1825 E. Gump Road currently owned by Loren and Liz Thomas, who under the proposal could continue live on the property as long as they like.

“Once the Thomases vacate the property, we will start the process of programming,” Parks Director Steve McDaniel explained in a letter to council members. “The basic terms are that this land will stay natural and not have recreation like ball diamonds or athletic fields.”

The “life estate” agreement with the Thomases is similar to the department’s arrangement with the Salomon family prior to the development of what is now Salomon Park Farm, McDaniel noted.

In 1997 Loren Thomas and his first wife, Janis, donated 17 acres on Gump to the Parks Commissioners. About two years ago, McDaniel said, the department approached the Thomases about buying the property to be considered Tuesday.

“The Parks and Recreation Department has been very blessed with the generosity of individuals within our community,” McDaniel wrote.

The proposed price represents the average of two appraisals and the funds would come from the parks’ cumulative capital fund and the Parks Trust.