Glynn County judge rules St. Simons Island park must be preserved
Twitty Park created by businessman's gift, transferred to Sea Island in 1982
BRUNSWICK, Ga. – A Glynn County judge ruled last week that the county had no right to transfer ownership of Twitty Park to the Sea Island Co. in 1982.
Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen Kelley ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, the Glynn Environmental Coalition and Jane Fraser, ordering that the deed should revert back to the county government and the park should be maintained for the benefit of the public.
“The ruling ensures that Twitty Park will remain a public park and is in line with our claim since the commencement of this litigation that Twitty Park is worth saving," said Rachael Thompson, executive director, Glynn Environmental Coalition.
Businessman T.L. Cain gave the land to Glynn County in 1924. For 95 years, Twitty Park was a scenic icon of Spanish moss-draped live oaks at the intersection of Frederica Road and Sea Island Road. Residents use the park for picnics, biking, running, dog walking and to observe the natural landscape of Georgia’s barrier islands.
In 2016, the Glynn Environmental Coalition and local residents became aware of Glynn County’s plans to develop roads that would encroach on the 95-year-old park. After reviewing the title work and other actions taken by Glynn County, the Glynn Environmental Coalition learned that Glynn County had conveyed Twitty Park to Sea Island in 1982, which was prohibited by the 1924 deed Cain gave to the county.
Cain’s deed required his gift to remain a public park and, if the land ever ceased to be used for such purposes, it was to revert to his heirs and successors. The Glynn Environmental Coalition and residents reached out to Cain's surviving family and discovered that they had never been notified and had never approved the 1982 transfer.
The judge's order outlines his decision that the Twitty Park must be maintained as the original 1924 Cain deed intended.
“As the legal owner of Twitty Park, Glynn County held that property in trust for Glynn County residents, who are equitable owners of the property. Under the common law of this state, the county had no authority to alienate Twitty Park, land held by it for use as a public park," Kelley wrote.
“We are extremely grateful for the court’s decision to maintain Twitty Park as a public park, to be held in the public trust for Glynn County residents and visitors to St. Simons Island,” GEC President Pamela Tillman said in a release. “Twitty Park is worth saving!”
Sea Island and Glynn County have 30 days to appeal the court’s decision.
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