FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WALA) - The saying “It’s not easy being green” is certainly a sentiment shared by the City of Fairhope. They’ve been at odds with the Dyas family for over 40 years over what can be done with the forested land surrounding their home.
“1972 is when the first issue came up with what to do with the property and there was a lot of decisions back and forth,” Timothy Kant, mayor of Fairhope said. “And then once family members and elected officials and citizens are all upset at each other and nothing was really happening.”
Monday night all of the struggles finally came to an end with the city’s purchase of the 108 acre forest stretching from Alabama 104 to Fly Creek and nestled between Main Street and Alabama 42.
“It’s bittersweet. It really is, but I think it’s just one of those things that the city will be able to put a long running bad situation to bed and so will my family. And I think it’s just a good deal for everyone,” Art Dyas said.
Dyas, who lives on the northwest corner of the land, said it took about 18 months to nail down the deal reached Monday night.
“We’re selling the property to them at a substantial discount and I think it’s probably not an excellent deal for both parties, but it’s a good deal for both parties and that’s what makes a deal like this a win-win scenario,” Dyas said.
The price to the city is $8.75 million. The down payment of $3 million will come from the city’s utilities surplus. As for the rest of the bill, the city hopes that by creating this green space, they can be reimbursed through funds from the federal government’s RESTORE and Clean Water Acts.
“We would like to get all of it back. If we can’t, if we can just get back the $5.75 million that’s better than none, but sure we’d like to get the $8.75 million back,” City Council President Jack Burrell said.
The bulk of the Dyas’ land will go to the city with the exception of the piece of land where Dyas’ house sits. It’s the only part of the land that has been or ever will be developed.
“The Dyas family wants to continue to work with the city to make sure we can preserve that for generations to come,” Kant said. “Cause what we don’t want, some of the council members, Diana Brewer for one, wants to make sure that another council say 15, 20 or a hundred years from now decides to develop the property. Well we don’t want that to happen.”
And he’s excited that the years of disputes are now behind everyone. The city will continue to work with the Dyas family as they work toward opening the space to the public.
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