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Pooler Government Uses Eminent Domain to Grow

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New Basketball Arena will double the number of kids playing at one time New Basketball Arena will double the number of kids playing at one time

Its a resolution to a controversial development plan in Pooler.

Pooler City leaders tell News 3 they have an agreement with the owners of this shopping center on Highway 80.

The city will pay $1.2 million for the property, which will be torn down to make way for the new Pooler city hall.

But until that deal was made,  Pooler was going to use eminent domain. That's the government's power to take private property for public use

While eminent domain was avoided in that case, it was used in a different part of Pooler.

A property along South Rogers street, right in front of Pooler Park.

"This area here is 3 acres. it will be parking area and an out to South Rogers street," explains Robbie Byrd, Pooler City Manager.

That's the plan put in motion by the Pooler City Council Tuesday night.

The wooded area near Pooler park was claimed as Eminent Domain, and will be bought from a local family for $40,000.
The trees will be cut down, a parking lot and new exit onto S Rogers street. Just the latest edition to this local park designed to make it better for the growing number of kids.

"When we grow in numbers we've got kids and we need to make sure we have plans in place for those kids," said Mike Lamb, Pooler Mayor.

Kids who've been jammed into one building, one court, all hours of the day and night.

"Right now in basketball we are up to about 300 kids," said Hugh Elton, Pooler Parks and Recreation Director. "Typically we like to put 7-8 kids per team, now we've got 8-10 kids because we don't have any room."

Room won't be nearly as much of a problem soon. That's because a new court is almost finished right next door.

"It will double the amount of practice space we have each hour," said Hugh Elton. "We're here until 6,7,8pm five nights a week, and we'll go from having space from four teams to eight,"

"From the beginning a lot of people got worried when we were building the new park we were just going to shut this one down," explained Mayor Lamb. "We knew better. We knew we are going to need both parks and going to need to get the maximum efficiency."

And at a 20% yearly growth rate on and off the courts. 21,000 people already in Pooler and more coming every day, efficiency means money.

"We're bringing in kids. That's helping with economic impact," said Elton. "The restaurants feel it, the hotels feel it these weekends they are coming in. That's a positive for the whole community."

While the city used eminent domain to buy the land near Pooler Park, they call it a last resort. That's because the people who owned the property couldn't get a clear title, and the entire process would have gotten hung up in a court.

Construction on the new parking lot will start in the next few weeks. The new basketball court will be open sometime in the Spring.

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