They know you’re watching

All parties are now working to save Pendleton King Park

When it comes to saving Pendleton King Park, we can probably let our guard down a bit, and it’s not yet time to get our backs up.

 

Vigilance is now the watch-word.

You’ll be glad to know that this page is hearing all the right things from public and private leaders about their efforts to preserve the 64-acre garden gem in the heart of Augusta.

But it still bears watching.

The park’s future came into serious doubt when it was learned that the owners/trustees had agreed to sell it to Winchester Homes for development once the park’s lease to the city expires at the end of the year.

That would be an unbridled tragedy, of course, and arguably not in keeping with either the letter or spirit of the generous will of Henry B. King, who left the land as a legacy to his son, John Pendleton King, World War I veterans and the entire region.

But we also can understand the trust’s need to replenish itself – and the city’s $1-a-year lease obviously doesn’t go very far.

The good news is that the parties are all locals who are working furiously behind the scenes to not only preserve the park as-is, but perhaps even set it up for a better future – while honoring the trust that created it.

The Pendleton King Park Foundation, a nonprofit formed decades ago to help take care of it with the city of Augusta, has embarked on a campaign to raise $1 million or more to buy the park outright. And there are other avenues through which the park can yet be saved from development.

And if it somehow becomes unnecessary or untenable for the foundation to buy the park, the foundation could sure use that million to improve it in the coming years. That’s known as a no-lose situation.

We have to say we were a bit underwhelmed by the Augusta Commission’s reception of a foundation spokesman at the commission’s Tuesday meeting. We would’ve thought either Mayor Hardie Davis or the 10 commissioners would’ve expressed more support of the foundation’s efforts – and perhaps a promise to be an exuberant partner with the foundation.

At the very least, the city could’ve conveyed a sense of gratitude to the selfless volunteers of the Pendleton King Park Foundation. They’ve been good and loyal servants to the park and the city for many, many years.

That lapse will be easily forgotten if city leaders can help broker a complicated and delicate series of transactions to save the park.

The other good news is that you’ve been seen and heard. The various parties in all this – the city, the developers and real estate agents, and the trustees, including community bank Queensborough National Bank and Trust Co. – fully understand the seriousness of this issue and the lengths folks here will go to to protect Pendleton.

Those parties are going to great lengths to do the same.

And they know we’re watching.

 

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