Clare residents will have the final say on whether to accept Suffolk County Council’s offer of £225,000 to off-load Clare Castle County Park.
The town’s people will be asked their opinion on the latest offer – and if it should be accepted – in a questionnaire delivered with the town’s Chevron newsletter.
Negotiations over the transfer of the park from the county council to Clare Town Council have been ongoing since the county authority decided in 2012 that it could no longer afford the financial cost of running the open space.
Suffolk County Council originally offered £100,000 before increasing it to £126,000 – and then increasing it again, after being told it was not enough, to a final offer of £225,000.
At a meeting on Thursday, Clare councillors decided to recommend to the community that the offer be accepted before a period of public consultation is then undertaken.
Town council chairman Keith Haisman said: “It is a significantly better offer.
“The question will be is it enough? Is there enough in there to cover all the risks that come with running the park. It’s finely balanced.”
The new offer would see the park transferred to the people of Clare at no cost and a one-off payment made to the town council of £200,000. The park would be managed by a board of trustees.
The payment would cover:
l The full cost of the building work proposed by the town council.
l The remaining design and project management fees for the building work.
l The remaining legal fees for the town council’s solicitors.
l Building running costs for the first six months while the work is completed.
l A contribution of about £30,000 towards other work in the park that the town council may wish to carry out.
l An extra contribution of £25,000 will also be made in anticipation of the town council making a Lottery bid with no restrictions placed on the town council regarding how that is spent.
l The county council will be liable for any VAT payments incurred by the town council as part of the agreed building work.
Although the new offer is an improved one, Mr Haisman pointed out that the building work required would cost £158,000, minus the VAT that the county would pay, leaving just £42,000 for any additional improvements.
Other renovations, such as work to the park’s moats and water features, would cost in the region of £180,000 to complete.
Public consultation events will take place at Clare Town Hall on July 31, from 4pm to 8pm, on August 1 between 4pm and 8pm, and on August 2, from 1pm to 5pm.
A public meeting will also take place at the town hall from 7pm on Thursday, August 7.