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Savannah community could get its first park

jacksonIf the details work out, Jackson County’s Savannah community could soon have a park to call its own. 

“People had asked for it, and I said we would consider it,” said County Commission Chairman Brian McMahan. 

Earlier this month, when commissioners held their meeting at the Savannah Fire Department on U.S. 441, they heard an appeal from Savannah resident Jean Buchanan Carr, who pointed out that people in the area have to drive to Sylva or Cullowhee to find a walking trail, picnic area or basketball court. She asked that commissioners consider putting some kind of outdoor recreation area in the Savannah community, which is located in the northwestern part of the county toward Franklin. 

“We would be very appreciative and there would be a lot of use of this facility in our area,” Carr said. 

At the time, McMahan had said that the county was working to provide recreation facilities countywide but acknowledged that some communities, like Savannah, don’t yet have access. 

“My comment all along as far as recreation funding has been concerned is we need to provide the community recreation facilities for Savannah and for Qualla before we look at a swimming pool in Cullowhee,” Commissioner Vicki Greene had added.

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Commissioners are currently considering buying a trio of contiguous properties totaling 2.3 acres along Gay Road. It’s privately owned, but available for sale. Commissioners discussed the possibility of purchase in a closed session last week and authorized County Manager Chuck Wooten to make an offer. If negotiations go in the county’s favor, commissioners will vote on a contract in open session later this year. State law allows public bodies to discuss price points in closed session to prevent negotiations from being undermined. 

The preliminary plan is to install picnic tables, a pavilion, walking trail and playground equipment on the land, but those are just the initial thoughts. If the contract is accepted, the county will take the next step in planning the possibilities. 

“If we can get the property under contract, then we’ll ask Parks and Recreation and the Recreation Committee to take a look at the property and see if it’s feasible to do the things we would like to,” McMahan said. 

In the same closed session, commissioners discussed another potential property purchase — a small residential lot on Keener Road adjacent to the Jackson County Public Library. The owner is selling it and gave the county an option to buy it, McMahan said. The county is now negotiating on a price. 

“It wouldn’t be used for recreation,” McMahan said. “Most likely it would become overflow parking.”

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