The foundation that has helped maintain Pendleton King Park for decades has announced it wants to become the park’s new owner.
“The Pendleton King Park Foundation is intending to secure the future of the Park, protect the park in perpetuity and permanently establish the park’s presence in our community as Augusta’s central park,” foundation president Jim Blount said in a news release.
“Our goal is to honor the wishes specifically stated in the will of Henry Barclay King to preserve the park as a perpetual memorial to his son, John Pendleton King II… The foundation has begun raising funds to purchase the park.”
The park’s future drew much public concern last week when one of three park trustees, Clarence Barinowski, announced he’d given a firm called Winchester Homebuilders a contract to buy the 64-acre park property on Troupe Street for $1.2 million.
Barinowski said he warned city leaders several times about the park’s lease expiring Jan. 1 and asked them to make an offer. His demands included increasing the city’s rent from $1 per year to $85,000, or selling it for $1 million or more. City officials said they believed King’s will requires Pendleton to remain a park in perpetuity.
Augusta Commissioner Dennis Williams said Thursday a “win, win” solution was imminent, but Friday another park trustee, Troy Breitmann, said any agreement would take time.
City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson said Friday she hoped to have an agreement ready for commission approval by Nov. 28, and that any purchase or lease price needs to take into account Augusta’s infusion of $130,000 in annual maintenance and a $250,000 sales tax allocation. The city has paid the salary of a live-in groundskeeper, Tommy Anglin, for at least seven years.
The foundation was created in 1966 to carry out King’s legacy by creating a public park and has overseen the creation of gardens, trails, a disc golf course, dog park, performance stage and other features over the years.
Blount said if the foundation succeeds in raising funds to buy the park, a partnership with the city and other arrangements, such as a lease, would remain necessary. “Obviously we’d have trouble doing it ourselves,” he said.
The foundation is giving itself a Dec. 31 deadline to raise funds to buy the park, according to the news release.
Foundation member Billy Franke is scheduled to address the commission at its Tuesday meeting, which has been rescheduled for 4 p.m. at the commission chamber, 535 Telfair St.
Reach Susan McCord at (706) 823-2315 or email@example.com.