Savannah’s Forsyth Park is often referred to as the “crown jewel” of the Hostess City.
One local group, the Trustee’s Garden Club, wants to make sure it stays that way, despite the fact that thousands of tourists visit the park every day and thousands of local residents use the facilities at the park.
“We’re proposing an agreement between Trustee’s Garden Club and the city,” says Meb Ryan. “Our club will fund a master plan for Forsyth Park in order to guide it into the future because we feel the park is used by everybody, not just in the city but surrounding areas, and it needs to be protected but also evolve so it meets the needs of citizens.”
Ryan tells News 3 that the park was established in 1841 and that “club research indicates it is probably the oldest municipal park in the country, older than Central Park.”
She says historic trees and walkways at the north end of the park deserve special protection status. While researching, she says club members were surprised to find out that the park is not on the list of National Historic Places.
Ryan and other club leaders are hopeful the city will take them up on their offer to spend the money on a master plan.
It would highlight the areas that deserve preservation and also help everyone involved realize how popular the park is and what kind of amenities are needed in this day and age.
“The master plan will address the types of programming that go on in the park and how to protect the turf and the vegetation and what types of vegetation should be planted, what types of trees should be planted, “Ryan said. “One topic that’s come up over the years is restrooms for the southern portion of the park.”
She said a master plan would identify a location for restrooms and handle other amenities.
“There are parking issues, circulation issues and bicycle issues. The plan will look at so many different aspects of the use of the park,” Ryan said.
The club hopes that city leaders will follow suggestions in the master plan which would take about a year to complete.
The idea was presented to city leaders Thursday morning.
At the same time, several aldermen also talked about other issues in the park they say are leading to bad experiences for visitors, including what was termed “aggressive panhandling.”
They also received word that a new vendor may be selected to run the restaurant at the park in about 30 days. Recommendations from city staff include paying for parking around the restaurant to increase turnover.