The future of Pendleton King Park is now clear after a big change ordered in court Tuesday.
It all goes back to November when the uncertainty of the park’s future brought the community to act: Protesting, fund-raising and petitioning to save the 64 acres of land, and honor Henry Barclay’s will.
It all comes after one of the three trustees of the will planned to sell the green space to a development company.
All has been quiet since January’s hearing when the trustees of Henry Barclay’s Will had their day in court. That day Judge Harry James told the group to gather financial records that hadn’t been filed since 1996.
Then Tuesday, Trustees Clarence Barenowski, Mary Speir and Queensborough Bank gathered in Richmond County’s Probate courtroom to hand over those statements.
“The paperwork was sloppy as far as preparing invoices,” Judge James told the trustees.
Barinowski, who originally wanted to sell Pendleton King Park to a development company, said there simply was no money in the bank: “The purpose of selling the land was to get some cash.”
NewsChannel 6’s Samantha Williams asked, “For the park?”
And Baronowski replied, “Yes.”
But that did not sit well with Judge James.
District Attorney Natalie Paine believes the trustee’s lack of financial documentation for more than 20 years was simply too much for them to handle. That’s when she recommended that Trustees Speir and Baronowski be replaced. Paine suggested the Pendleton King Park Foundation and Historic Augusta take over the role.
“It’s a little disappointing…. No, it’s a major disappointment because I have spent so much time as a trustee of the park,” Baronowski told us.
He became a trustee of the King will after his father passed away. And same for Mary Speir.
But Pendleton King Park President Jim Blount said this was all unexpected: “We are happy with this. We know what we want. We want the park to remain a park, so I think it is secure now.”
And P.K.P. lovers tell the same story. Wanda Thaxton and her friends meet weekly at the dog park: “I know everybody. We are like family, so I am so glad.”
Pendleton King Foundation and Historic Augusta will have to formally accept the recommendation to become trustees before anything is permanent.
Count on us to keep you updated.