What do I not understand, a lot of things, but specifically, why two of our county commissioners were so unmoving in the issue of buying the property known as “the Ebenezer Crossing.”
No one can question the value of this property ecologically and historically. There was a question of dollar value, but that has not been set as yet. The value stated was only the upside of what it was believed that it would require to purchase, and that only after all due diligence was done including an appraisal of the real value.
There was the excuse made of committing the funds when there was no clear source of such funds, although we do now know that the county is in the process of selling a piece of property to a willing buyer who has the funds to purchase. The unconfirmed information is that this one sale would place $100,000 in the county coffers, two-thirds of what the DNR federal grant would have required.
There was an additional excuse that when “I give my word, I don’t back down.” Well and good, but the DNR rep stated several times that the county could withdraw anytime before the grant was actually awarded — at least 18 months away.
So what is the real problem?
The real problem for the citizens is this shortsighted action of turning down the opportunity to allow the county to own an area of pristine forest and wetlands that is unequaled in the area, according to the DNR. Add to that, the unique Ebenezer Crossing area that has historical value not found anywhere else. These two values put together would give Effingham a tourist attraction of unequaled value in the area.
So why were Commissioners Jones and Kieffer so adamantly against the project? In light of information received in the meeting, it does not appear that their stances were valid. So what is their real problem with this opportunity (now slipped beyond our fingers)?
Thanks to Commissioner Mason who made an effort to find a compromise, although he too questioned the value.
A big thanks to Commissioner Brantley for putting the issue on the table again (on Sept. 4), for action within the timeframe to allow the grant to be exercised.
And thanks to our newspapers (The Herald and The Now) for their coverage and their stance on the issue.
“They say” that there may be an opportunity for another grant for this purpose next year. Let’s hope, if that be the case, that our commissioners will be leading the way to get the grant done and doing what they feel they must to put their part of the grant dollars together.
Let us hope that we don’t fail again to secure and protect Effingham’s history.