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Possibility of city selling parks rankles Granite Shoals residents

Lake View Park in Granite Shoals

The Granite Shoals City Council is discussing whether it can or even should sell some of its city parks, which include Lake View Park in the 2800 block of Lakeview Lane. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

Several Granite Shoals residents defended the city’s parks after the subject of possibly selling certain ones came up during the Parks Advisory Committee meeting Thursday, Nov. 4.

“It’s for the people of this city to enjoy,” said resident Tammie Sander, who lives across the street from Lakeview Park. “We’re a lake community, and lake access to the lake (is important). Some of us are closer to the water than others.”

Lake View Park, located in the 2800 block of Lakeview Lane, drew the most public support during the meeting, even though it has no amenities and is situated between two private homes. 

The committee’s agenda included a discussion and consideration of a “budget proposal to sell certain parks.”

However, selling a city park is quite complicated, and, even if possible,  would likely require going before voters. 

Committee member and former city councilor Shirley King pointed out that selling parks has come up many times over the past five decades. During a previous inquiry about possibly selling parkland, King pointed out that the original developer of Granite Shoals had worded the deeds of those properties as dedicated for public use.

City Manager Jeff Looney informed the committee and residents in attendance that the City Council hasn’t taken steps to sell any parks.

“The council hasn’t made the decision to do anything except look at the overall assessment of the parks in Granite Shoals,” he said. “That’s the condition, the cost for upkeep, the equipment that’s needed, and the utilization of the parks. It’s basically an audit of the parks.”

Granite Shoals — known as the “City of Parks” — has 19 parks spread across the city with each offering a range of amenities, including just lake access at Lake View Park to a playground, pavilion, and boat ramp at Bluebriar Park. 

Residents believe the parks, whether full of amenities or not, are important to the city.

“We have the privilege of seeing our neighbors there every day,” resident Steve Pritchett said. “One of the reasons we bought (our home) was because of the parks in Granite Shoals. We see our neighbors fish. Everywhere we see the geese and wildlife. It’s wonderful to see neighbors come together.”

Terry Kenyon, who spoke on behalf of his parents, talked about Park 13, which is Belaire Park. 

“As Granite Shoals builds (and grows), there’s going to be more demand for parks, not less,” he said. “We enjoy stopping by the parks and looking at the lake. Park 13 is used by a lot of people. People are walking their dogs, they’re picnicking, kids are playing.”  

If the city did sell a park, money from the sale would go into a fund benefiting the parks system, Looney said.

At this time, no money is in that fund, Assistant City Manager Peggy Smith pointed out.

Councilor Steve Hougen, who attended the meeting as a visitor, said one of the challenges that city staff and the councilors face is finding money for the parks.

“We never have enough money. If you are a member of City Council or a chair of a committee and can get $2 million for selling such-and-such park, it’s probably due diligence as the city manager or the City Council to share that information,” he said. “Selling parks has been mentioned to the council, but not on the agenda. Just because the city manager brings it up for discussion doesn’t mean he’s in favor of it.”

In the end, committee members approved recommending the City Council ask city staff to review the parks’ deeds along with the city’s legal counsel.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

3 thoughts on “Possibility of city selling parks rankles Granite Shoals residents

  1. Stand Your Ground Granite Shoals!!! Once a Park is Gone, it can never be Replaced!!!

  2. The city of Granite Shoals can find the money to purchase a police mobile command vehicle, but can’t find the money to spend on parks that the citizens enjoy?

    1. The police mobile command vehicle was acquired through the DOD, at no cost to the city.

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