County targets $200k in Glynn Haven fundraiser

Taylor Cooper, The Brunswick News, Ga.
·3 min read

Apr. 1—The Glynn County Commission is hoping the community will be generous in its effort to raise money through private donations to buy the former site of Glynn Haven Baptist Church, now a vacant lot.

More than 100 people showed up to a fundraiser kickoff event on the lot in the middle of the Glynn Haven neighborhood on Monday evening, said Commissioner Cap Fendig, who represents St. Simons Island.

Many of the attendees contributed on the spot. Others gave commitments or offered to match a certain amount.

The county is trying to raise $200,000 and pay the rest with its own money and matches from different groups, which it plans to develop into a public park.

The fundraiser is also a way for Glynn Haven and St. Simons Island residents to have some direct buy-in to the park.

As of midday Tuesday, $25,000 had been donated, Fendig said.

Donations should be made to the Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation and are fully tax-deductible. For more information, contact the foundation at 912-324-4120 or info@coastalgeorgia foundation.org.

A local developer bought the church in 2017 and promptly tore it down. The developer was hit with a stop-work order because it lacked the proper demolition permits.

Other secured permits were revoked over the incident as well, according to county planning and zoning staff.

By that time it was public knowledge that the church had been built across 16 residential parcels. When the church came down, there were no legal barriers to constructing 16 new homes in the already crowded neighborhood.

The 16 were later combined to make 10, said Duckworth Properties owner and broker LeAnn Duckworth, who has an ownership stake in the land.

"We could build all 10 houses and sell them immediately," Duckworth told The News on Tuesday. "We're short of inventory.

"We don't care either way. We just thought this was a good way to help the community. We'd much rather see it as a park, but we'll do whatever we have to do."

Glynn County has a contract with Duckworth that runs through April 30, she said. It's been in place since the fall and gone through several extensions while the county looked for a way to buy the land.

About a month left and $200,000 short, the county settled on a fundraiser for the property. Duckworth said the asking price is $950,000.

"I'll be honest with you, we could make a lot more money developing it," Duckworth said.

It's worth the effort to provide a little green space in one of the most densely built neighborhoods in the county, Fendig said. The residential area spans roughly from Palm Street to Magnolia Street on the west side of Frederica Road, contains some 575 homes and pays roughly $1.2 million in property taxes every year.

Fendig said it also has the most children of any single neighborhood in the Golden Isles.

The old church property, located on Second Avenue between Palmetto Street and Atlantic Avenue, is somewhat hard to access for non-residents, Fendig said, but it will be a public park if the county can raise the money.

The St. Simons Land Trust considered buying the property, but the lack of accessibility and visibility from major thoroughfares placed it low on the list of priorities than several other prospects, said Emily Ellison, land trust executive director.

When approached by the county late last year, she helped facilitate the partnership with the Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation and directed county officials to grant opportunities.

The attempt at a public-private partnership is one the land trust fully supports, Ellison said. It's worked before at Frederica Park and Harrington Park.