Glynn County Commissioners voted to defer making a decision on a land swap that would see the county trading land along the Brunswick- Altamaha Canal for land up against Canal Road.
Commission chairman Richard Strickland said the county wanted the land along Canal Road so that it could be used to widen the road to four lanes in the future. The land the commission was offering to trade is landlocked, it cannot be easily accessed without crossing private property.
Carton Morrison and Dick Wiederhorn spoke at the beginning of the meeting during the public comment period, laying out cases against swapping the land along the canal.
Morrison gave a short history of the canal, construction on which began in 1836. The canal was completed in 1854, but fell into disuse by 1860 after railroads became the preferred method of transporting freight.
“There’s no way the worth of the land in the proposal can be evaluated because the canal lands are not just a piece of real estate, it’s our heritage,” Morrison said.
Wiederhorn also argued against the swap. He showed the commissioners images of what had been done with the Delaware Canal, part of a state park in New Jersey he admitted he didn’t know the cost, but it was just an example of what the county could turn the Brunswick-Altamaha Canal into.
An early motion to defer the land swap failed 4-3, with only commissioners Allen Booker, Bill Brunson and Bob Coleman voting in favor of deferral.
Booker said, after hearing about the canal’s history, that it really did seem like an asset to the community. He also suggested waiting until the new Community Development Director, Pamela Thompson, takes office in January, so that she could be asked to find other means of acquiring the Canal Road property without trading the Brunswick-Altamaha Canal land or resorting to eminent domain.
After further discussion failed to bring about a consensus, the commission decided to take it into executive session using disposal of real estate as justification.
Brunson recommended going to executive session. Commissioner Dale Provenzano said he would be willing to discuss it in executive session as well, and a motion was passed to that effect.
After returning to the meeting chamber, commissioners voted to defer the item 6-1, Strickland voting against.
In other business, commissioners approved sending an application to the Georgia Department of Transportation for a traffic light at the Georgia Ports Authority Brunswick Port entrance. GDOT has already begun the process of installing a light, all they needed from the commission was a commitment to pay for the electricity for it.
They also approved the use of SPLOST V recreation and drainage funds to improve the drainage around the Old Coast Guard Station on St. Simons Island and improve the Coast Guard Beach parking lot.
The next meeting of the Glynn County Commission will be at 6 p.m. Dec. 15 in the Old Glynn County Courthouse, 701 G St. in Brunswick.