National Park Service:

Land Acquisition at the Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia

RCED-97-251R: Published: Sep 29, 1997. Publicly Released: Oct 1, 1997.

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Victor S. Rezendes
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the acquisition of the Greyfield tract in the Cumberland Island National Seashore in Georgia by the National Park Service (NPS), focusing on: (1) how the price was determined for the Greyfield tract; (2) whether normal procedures were used to acquire the Greyfield tract; (3) whether federal legislation establishing the seashore or its wilderness area would prevent development of this private property if it were not purchased by NPS; and (4) whether there will be additional costs for security at the Navy's King's Bay Submarine Base if the property is developed.

GAO noted that: (1) an appraisal was used to determine the price for the Greyfield tract, as required; (2) there was nothing unusual about the acquisition procedures used; (3) the legislation concerning Cumberland Island does not preclude the development of the Greyfield tract; (4) the need for additional security at the Navy base will depend on the increase in boat traffic; (5) GAO is concerned about the second appraisal for the Greyfield tract, which relied in part on an unexercised option that resulted in an increased appraised value; (6) if the Greyfield tract were sold to a developer, NPS would probably condemn the property, depending on available funding; (7) if this were to occur, condemnation could result in a higher price because there is a strong possibility that the price set in court would substantially exceed the current contract price; and (8) the current price of $17.9 million for the remaining four tracts may, in practical terms, be the lowest price at which the government could purchase the property.

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