Glynn County Commissioner Tony Thaw got an earful
Posted in the St. Simons Island Forum
#1 Nov 4, 2010
Residents rail against gym site
THE BRUNSWICK NEWS, GA.| NEVIN BATIWALLA | Thu, Nov 4, 5:56 AM
Nov. 04--Glynn County Commissioner Tony Thaw got an earful Wednesday from residents adamantly opposed to a proposed gym the county is considering building in their neighborhood on St. Simons Island.
The town hall forum, intended to gauge public input on where on the island the county should build the $1.7 million sports complex, turned feisty when Thaw defended building it at the county-owned Epworth Park, adjacent to Epworth by the Sea Methodist Retreat Center.
"Parks are good in neighborhoods because that is where kids live," Thaw said from the stage of the Casino theater on St. Simons Island.
"Why is everybody against kids?"
Thaw's comment caused an eruption of moans, groans and carping from opponents.
"Then you tell me where to put the park," Thaw responded to them.
Residents are concerned about traffic and noise that a gym would bring, said Jeff Rentz, an attorney representing residents of Epworth Acres.
"Of all of the four locations which they considered today, only one of them was in a neighborhood. And it's the quietest neighborhood in Glynn County," Rentz said.
"I want to make it very clear my clients are not opposed to a gym facility for children in Glynn County, specifically on St. Simons, to use for basketball. It's just this location is absolutely not consistent with the use that they have in the neighborhood."
For months county officials have struggled to find a suitable site for the gym. In addition to Epworth, they have looked at land at the McKinnon St. Simons Island Airport, near Fire Station No. 2 on Demere Road, Gascoigne Park, on Frederica River, and land off Lawrence Road near a fire station. Federal Aviation Administration restriction is the major roadblock preventing the county from building it near the airport -- Thaw's top choice for the gym.
No decision has been made on where to locate the gym.
Thaw said he understands the concerns about Epworth but is not ruling it out. He said he will continue to look for new possible locations.
Several people, including volunteer youth basketball coach Tod Lynch-Stanley, attended the meeting to show support for the project.
"We desperately need this facility right now because we don't have places for kids to play basketball," he said.
A site for the facility, the construction of which would be paid for with proceeds from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, would have to be approved by majority vote of the Glynn County Commission.
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