The Wake County Board of Commissioners authorized for negotiations to begin with Fuquay-Varina and the school system to transfer the 143-acre former Crooked Creek golf course for free. The county purchased the land for $4 million last June in a controversial 4-3 vote, supported by two outgoing commissions – John Burns and Erv Portman – who had lost the primary. 

But as soon the new board was sworn in last year, the new Board majority – Chair Jessica Holmes and Commissioners Greg Ford, Vicki Adamson, and James West – decided to reverse course and list the property as surplus, igniting the ire of community members outraged elected officials had reneged on a promise to make the land a county park. The new majority viewed this as correcting the previous board’s mistake, believing the county shouldn’t foot the bill to bail out a failed golf course. Sig Hutchinson, Matt Calabria and Susan Evans voted against selling the land. 

Today’s unanimous vote to begin negotiations to give the property away for free to the town is a compromise, officials on both sides of the vote say. 

For the more than three hundred residents that crowded the Commission’s chambers in January to oppose the sale, it is somewhat of a victory. 

“You have been heard,” Holmes said at the meeting Monday. “I hope that as we extend this olive branch, that we also start the healing process.”

Healing is still a long ways off for the Commission, though, as evidenced by a heated exchange between Holmes and Calabria via email last week and shared with the local media. Holmes accused Calabria of lying and attempting to take credit for the deal, demanding Calabria publicly apologize and retract a statement on social media claiming the county planned to sell the land to the highest bidder when the January vote occurred. 

After a tense back-and-forth, with Calabria citing the language of the original resolution to justify his position, he told Holmes that bickering over email wasn’t “appropriate or constructive.”

She agreed that “this method of communication is unfortunate and less than ideal,” but continued to insist Calabria’s statement on the county’s intention was false. Calabria urged an end to the exchange as the conversation might risk violating open meetings laws.

Whatever tensions remained Monday were buried under the surface, as Commissioners appeared relatively cordial if a little stiff. 

“I think this proposal moves us forward,” Calabria said in support of giving the land away for free. “At the end of the day, while perhaps this isn’t anybody’s first choice – there are pros and cons to any direction we head – I think this represents a reasonable compromise and a reasonable path forward.” 

Any deal brokered with Fuquay-Varina or the school system will still need to come back before the Board for final approval.