Columbia County's new Greenspace Advisory Board is getting a very public jump start.
A Greenspace town-hall meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.
"The meeting will serve to give prospective members information about the Greenspace program," said County Landscape Architect Leah Owens. "It will also allow us to see who is interested and hand out applications."
Community and Leisure Services Director Barry Smith said he hopes to establish the new advisory board by the end of July and to hold the first meeting of the group by mid-August.
County commissioners approved the new structure of the board earlier this month. Under the plan, the board will have seven members: two at-large members, a Realtor or developer, an urban planner, an environmentalist, an attorney, and an accountant, a banker or land appraiser.
"(The greenspace is) a very complicated subject," said Ernie Blackburn, who's been active with the greenspace committee. "These people, a lot of times, will already have the knowledge a layperson like myself would have to work a long time to acquire."
Smith said he wants representation from all areas of the county, including Grovetown and Harlem. He believes choosing at-large members from the cities might accomplish that goal.
"I think the beauty of what they (commissioners) decided ... is the fact that once this board is established they can certainly see where the gaps are and recommend two at-large committee members that will complement the five already in place," he said.
The countygreenspace program's goal is to establish 27,000 protected acres in Columbia County for greenspace.
"The whole purpose of greenspace is to improve the quality of life through the preservation and protection of greenspace in Columbia County," Smith said.
Columbia County is among the top five counties in Georgia in establishing greenspace. Currently, the new advisory board will have around $600,000 at its disposal for purchasing greenspace properties. Those funds were left over from state funds provided to the county over the past two years but that have not been spent yet.
Smith also recently received a list of recommendations from the outgoing Greenspace Committee. The list suggests using the county's Growth Management Plan to find greenspace corridors, hiring a new Community and Leisure Services employee dedicated to establishing greenspace, and working more closely with county departments.
"There were a lot of very good points in there that will aid the advisory board in their mission," he said.
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