Proposed changes to Forsyth Park finalized after years of planning

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 4:33 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - After years of planning, and months of public feedback, the final version of a master plan of proposed changes to Forsyth Park are in the hands of City of Savannah staff.

The multi-year, Forsyth Park Project was launched by the Trustees’ Garden Club, and presented to the City of Savannah earlier this year.

The co-chair of the Trustees’ Garden Club says the proposed changes to Forsyth Park are meant to happen over decades, not all at once, and that some of the first changes you might notice if adopted by the City are to the park’s lighting.

“We know that the City does have funds already budgeted for lighting upgrades in the park, so I think we will definitely see that sooner rather than later. Hopefully the public restrooms on the southern end, since that is something that the community has been asking for for a long time, way before the Forsyth Park Master Plan was initiated,” Meb Ryan, Trustees Garden Club co-chair said.

Ryan says the bulk of the changes from the version the public weighed in on last April will be in the central and southern areas of the park.

“There is a proposal to remove the outdated playground on the west side, and replace that with a gathering space, picnicking space, so that families can enjoy that shaded area of the park,” Ryan said. “Also in an area west of the Fragrant Garden, in that barren space, just proposed increased and enhanced landscaping, a shade garden, a children’s garden that would be educational for children to learn about pollinators and things like that.”

Ryan also says one of the top suggestions from the public surveys was people wanting more special events at Forsyth.

To accommodate that request, the final Master Plan proposes creating a new band shell and moving it a little further south from the current band shell footprint to allow for easier access for those using it.

At the southern end of Forsyth Park, Ryan says that’s where the greatest changes would be the addition of several amenities.

“That would be a gathering space, a small picnic area, a new playground with a safe wonderful water feature that children could enjoy, rather than the more dangerous one in front of the band shell. And then public restrooms, and a maintenance shed for the City,” Ryan says. Ryan adds the maintenance shelter could house the City’s larger vehicles, allowing them to use smaller ones around the park, putting less stress on the tree roots and grass.

Ryan says the only proposed changes to the north end of Forsyth are lighting and pavement upgrades, and that the proposal also includes preservation of tree canopies and root systems.

All told, the estimated cost for all of the proposed upgrades is around $16 million. Ryan says it’s her hope some kind of a conservancy effort can be established, that would bring together other civic groups to help offset the costs of maintenance for the City long term.

Ryan also explained at this point, it’s up to the City of Savannah to decide what parts of the Master Plan to implement, and when, since the park is City-owned.

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