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Granite Shoals has authority to sell parkland, city attorney determines

Crockett Park in Granite Shoals

Crockett Park in Granite Shoals. The city has determined it can sell parkland — with voters' approval. Staff photo by Jennifer Greenwell

Granite Shoals leaders now have an answer to whether the city can sell off parkland, with voters’ approval, if deemed necessary.

Granite Shoals City Attorney Joshua Katz sent a memorandum to Mayor Will Skinner and the City Council on Monday, Nov. 15, stating that, after reviewing original plats from 1962 and other documents, he did not find “any restriction that would preclude the City from potential sale of parkland.”

“The plats depict the lots that eventually would become the City of Granite Shoals parks,” Katz wrote. “While these plats refer in their notes to the dedication of streets and parks ‘for the use of the public forever,’ the plats themselves do not specifically identify lots as parkland.”

The question of whether the city could sell parkland came up during a Parks Advisory Committee meeting Nov. 4. The committee’s agenda included a discussion and consideration of a “budget proposal to sell certain parks.”

Several residents spoke on behalf of the parks during the meeting. Committee member and former City Council member Shirley King said she didn’t believe the city could sell any of its park property due to the wording of the original plats. 

City Manager Jeff Looney told the committee and the residents in attendance that the council hadn’t taken any steps to sell any of the 19 parks and that councilors were assessing the current needs of properties.

This discussion prompted Katz’s review of the original plats and other related documents. 

The attorney informed councilors in the memorandum upon his review that he found nothing that restricts the city from selling parkland. 

Katz noted two important provisions if councilors ever decide to sell parkland. First, the city must hold an election for voters to authorize a sale of parkland. And, if approved, the city must then adopt an ordinance to do so.

The other is equally important, he added.

“Second, all we’ll do is evaluate the parks,” he said. “The City Council will determine what will happen from here. The council determines what’s on the ballot. It goes out for votes by citizens, who cast votes.”

The evaluation of each park includes amenities such as trees and shade, picnic tables, boat ramps, sidewalks, playground equipment, and parking.

Looney noted some parks are used often and, as a result, need to be improved. 

If the council decides in the future it needs to sell parkland, Looney said the final decision rests in residents’ hands.

“The City Council is voted by the people, and the people make the choice,” Looney said. “It’s not up to staff to make that choice. This is the citizens’ town. The citizens need to make the decisions.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com