Mr. Neubert Purser was a World War II Veteran who served in the US Army and fought in the Battle of the Bulge from which he sustained a life threatening injury from an exploding shell and was hospitalized for eleven months. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his service.
In September/October of 2003 Mr. Purser was approached by a representative from the Public Trust for Land and was asked if he would be interested in preserving his property as open space and developing it into a park. He loved his land and his desire was to farm and leave it as an inheritance for his children. He was approached once again by the Public Trust for Land and still was not interested and was unaware that the representative from Public Trust for Land was also representing the Town of Matthews.
Unable to persuade Mr. Purser into selling the town decided to take his property from him by using a “quick take” which is a form of condemnation. On February 14, 2005 the Mayor and Commissioners voted 6 to 1 to condemn Mr. Purser’s farm for a park. The vote was supported by former Mayor Lee Myers and former Commissioners Paul Bailey; Suzanne Gulley; Paula Lester; Kress Query and current Mayor James P.Taylor. The only no vote was former Commissioner Jack Davis. If you were to call the town and ask if Mr. Purser’s farm was condemned the response was “we paid for the land “. Yes, Mr. Purser was paid for his land as required by law, but as former Commissioner Jack Davis said “it has never been a matter of what they will offer to buy because Mr. Purser’s statement is that he will not sell.”
In Chapter 136 of the North Carolina General Statues, Article 9 there is a section that provides a “quick take” power. Chapter 136 does not require a 30 day notice letter. Matthew Town Attorney Charles Buckley deposited funds needed at the county deed’s office and was given the deed to Mr. Purser’s farm. Mr. Purser awoke one morning only to learn he no longer owned his beloved farm. In interview with Karen Welsh of the Carolina Journal he stated “It knocked me plain off my feet up until that moment I didn’t know what eminent domain was, but I soon found out I had been sold out by my own country.”
During closed session the Mayor and Commissioners promised naming rights to Mr. Purser. On March 30, 2013 Mr. Purser passed away. The park had always been referred to as Purser-Hulsey Park but on February 10, 2014 Mayor James P. Taylor stated “noted that the name of the park has not been established and should not be referenced by anything specific at this time since naming rights have not been committed.
I have always believed the town should honor the promise made to Mr. Purser. In April 2013 Matthews Watch posted its first article in exposing the lies and liars and in June 2015 a petition was posted. On August 24, 2015 the Mayor and Commissioner’s received copy of petition via e-mail asking to please honor the naming rights as promised to Mr. Purser. It is well known that Mayor James P. Taylor was not in favor of committing and during the August 24, 2015 5:30pm Board of Commissioners meeting he stated “there is no reason to rush the naming of the park” and “not going to be backed into a corner by her (meaning me) or anyone else” while also claiming “that land was for sale the entire time” which is not true and went so far to say “some in the family are using, in my opinion, Mrs. Hoover as their sounding board. What I think has occurred is and its a speculation on my part, the aire’s of Mr. Purser and there were a number of them, when you divide the amount of property by number of aire’s its not a lot of money. I think that they saw big number’s and were satisfied. Now when you divide it all down and yada-yada-yada Mr. & Mrs. great grandson or granddaughter is getting a small portion of what they thought was going to be a huge chunk . They want something else, that’s what I think is occurring numbers again” and believe or not there is more. Wow! This is our mayor? He’s so blinded by his own arrogance he cannot even see the right thing to do. Instead of compassion he chose to degrade the family whose fathers farm was condemned by the town. He really needs to get over himself. Also, let me make one thing clear. Knowing how the town continued to deny the condemnation I decided to post a petition and in doing so I asked for permission from the Purser family. Not once did the Purser family ever come to me for help.
During the 2015 election Commissioner’s Jeff Miller and John Higdon publicly made it known they did not have a problem with naming the park after Mr. Purser. Once again Commissioner Jeff Miller has stepped up to the plate and requested that the discussion for the naming of the park be included in the 2016 Planning Conference agenda which I think has lead to the commitment of naming the park. I am so excited to say that on April 23, 2016 during the ribbon cutting for the new Community Garden it was announced the park would be named Purser-Hulsey Park. The Purser family was presented a plaque in honor of their father and during the April 25, 2016 Board of Commissioners meeting it was approved to name the park Purser-Hulsey Park. Thank you, to all the Commissioner’s for supporting the vote to name the park, this was the right thing to do. As for Mayor Taylor who was the first to ask “if they could condemn the property” I think by agreeing this was just another photo-op for a self serving politician.
As a citizen of Matthews I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the Purser family. I am so very sorry your family has been through so much pain but hopefully now you may all rest knowing that the promise made to your father will finally be upheld.
Thank you to everyone who signed and supported the petition.
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