Anyone who has ever been to an historic square in downtown Savannah can appreciate the green space left in the city, but some feel a bit left out as they see huge oaks torn down to make way for new highways cutting across once pristine marsh and the drone of traffic all night in place of the chirping of crickets and frogs.
A recent study by the National Institute of Health discovered that the number one way to relieve stress was to get outdoors in nature, so keeping green space alive and caring for what little wilderness we have left on the fringes of the historic district is top priority for some.
Whether you simply enjoy picnicking in the park or jogging along the paved track at Lake Mayer or Daffin and Forsyth Parks, it is nice to have a place you can go to get away from all the malls and retail shopping outlets, as well as the bumper to bumper traffic and it is much safer for the kids to ride their bike along a protected park rather than on the street side where cars often do not give walkers and bikers the right of way.
Chatham county is aware of the desire to provide green spaces; parks, waterway access, gardens and paths and is currently conducting a survey from now through July 25, 2014 to determine what you think is a priority in the way of keeping Savannah green.
The survey is part of an effort to write a long-term Green Space Plan for the county.
Currently there are 22 squares in the historic district and at least a half dozen parks and boat ramps
There are also many trails, some in need of maintenance and a number of empty properties and woodlands which could be incorporated into public green spaces, including what some hope to be a public trail running along the current Truman Parkway which would be accessible only to bikes and foot traffic.
The Rails to Trails has been partially restored near Tybee and there are a number of wooded areas on /Skidaway Island at the Marine Institute and Campgrounds.
The Chatham County Resource Protection Commission (CCRPC) and the Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) are seeking to acquire, preserve, and improve on the county’s current green spaces.
According to their website, Ellen Harris, Director of Urban Planning and Historical Preservation for the MPC, explains their efforts saying, “For each property that comes under the umbrella of the CCRPC, a management plan is produced that is specific to that property. It outlines what activities might be allowed on the property and has recommendations for future improvements (such as signage or trails). We work to ensure that there is an easement placed on the property to ensure that it remains green space.”
In an effort to plan long-term, the Green Space Plan is being developed now and they need your input.
“This is the first long-term plan that will be put together to guide the Resource Protection Commission on green space for Chatham County over a three or five year period,” says Resource Protection Commission Intern Katie Reams.
The survey is open until Friday, July 25. CCRPC and MPC are conducting the survey, looking for suggestions from Chatham County residents on preferences and ideas for future and current green space.
If you know of any large spaces, like an old pasture area or wooded area near your home that is up for sale and want to keep it from turning into housing and strip malls, now would be a good time to speak up.
The survey asks several questions, including how often you visit local green spaces (parks, trails, boat ramps, sports facilities), your method of getting there, and your opinion of how important green space preservation is to you.
“As this is the first long-term plan for green space in Chatham County, the RPC wanted to know the thoughts of Chatham County residents and know that they will have a voice in this long-term plan,” says Reams. “The RPC will be meeting at the end of the month, and I will give all the results that we have up to that point. The survey will be used to shape the goals of the long-term plan.”
In order to take the survey you have to be a Chatham County resident over the age of 18, though if you are younger, you might be able to take the survey with a guardian or adult and get them to fill out their name, since a lot of kids use green spaces, probably more than adults!
To take the survey go to: