Glynn Can't Lease Park to Club; Facility Is Only for Outdoor Recreation

Article excerpt

Byline: TERRY DICKSON

BRUNSWICK - A senior Superior Court judge ruled Thursday that Glynn County cannot lease a St. Simons Island park to the Boys and Girls Club for a teen center.

The injunction will remain in place until the county can obtain federal permission to use the land for something other than outdoor recreation.

Senior Superior Court Judge Tom Pope issued the temporary injunction after a two-hour hearing on a lawsuit filed by members of Friends of Demere Park. The suit was filed to prevent the county from executing a 30-year lease on 2.3 acres of Demere Park near the island's southern tip.

Before making the ruling, Pope said he was putting his personal feelings aside on the Boys and Girls Club, which he called a "terrific program."

Pope then said the Glynn County Commission cannot lease the land because of a 1981 agreement in which the county accepted about $10,000 in U.S. Soil and Water Conservation funds for park lighting with a provision the park would be used for outdoor recreation.

Two witnesses for the county, County Commissioner Uli Keller and Brian Dolan, director of the Boys and Girls Club of Glynn, acknowledged the club's building plans included rooms for computers, homework assistance, tutoring, a gymnasium and art and recording studios.

Those plans were clearly not for outdoor recreation, Pope said.

His order merely compels the county to "do what it said it was going to do back in 1981 when it got the money," Pope said.

County Attorney Gary Moore had argued that the court did not have the power to undo something that already had been done: the county executing the lease with the Boys and Girls Club.

There was a problem with that argument, one noted by Pope - the county could not present a copy of the lease signed by County Commission Chairman Don Hogan.

During a short recess, Hogan asserted he had signed the lease agreement that the commissioners approved in an Oct. 19 meeting.

"I'd sign it if it was put in front of me," Hogan said, "and I think it was."

"Nobody knows where it is," Moore said.

There was also no legal description of exactly what land the Boys and Girls Club would lease, Pope said in making his ruling. …