THOMASVILLE — The City of Thomasville is pursuing an option for an additional exit out of Remington Park.

City Manager Steve Sykes said Thursday it is the recommendation of the city’s recreation board, due to safety concerns, to pursue a 30-foot strip of land that runs from the existing parking lot east to Pinetree Boulevard.

“Right now, we’re in the process of getting appraisals done on the route that was chosen,” Sykes said. “It was one of maybe 10 routes that were possibilities leading out of the park. For various reasons, the other possibilities weren’t final options.”

He said a second exit route — one that does not cross the railroad track — is important because derailment is a primary concern.

“We don’t want to have citizens stranded,” Sykes said. “Some of the other routes involved crossing the track or taking traffic through existing, established neighborhoods. This particular route was chosen because it doesn’t have to cross the track and doesn’t go through an existing, established neighborhood.”

Councilman Max Beverly said, at Thomasville City Council’s June 8 workshop where the item was discussed, it can take “literally 10 minutes to get to the railroad track” coming out of the park. He voiced support of an additional exit.

Randy Crosby, spokesperson for property owners of the proposed route, opposed the idea.

“They feel like it would lessen the appeal and quiet atmosphere of the property,” Crosby said at the workshop.

Crosby did offer a recommendation for another route out of the park using an existing street in a residential neighborhood.

Sykes said this route was one of several originally considered, but because it is an existing single family residential subdivision with little traffic, it is not a good option.

Sharon Baker, manager of Quail Rise (an apartment complex adjacent to the property proposed for the route), presented 92 signatures of residents who do not wish to have the route next to them. She said residents are opposed to “back door traffic” and are afraid the exit would become a constant thoroughfare.

Baker also expressed concern over how many trees would be cut down and drainage issues.

Sykes said only 30 feet would be taken for the route, and the plan would include drainage, privacy fencing and a time-controlled gate.

Baker said in a phone interview Friday the city’s explanations may take care of the drainage issue, but the residents and the owner still have concerns. These include the gates being open until 10 p.m. or midnight (depending on activities at the park, which could allow for people to walk into the drive), visibility of upstairs residents and noise.

“We have a very quiet property and residents are concerned about noise,” Baker, who now has 12 more signatures, said. “Even with an eight-foot privacy fence, it would not keep people from seeing upstairs residents. Between us and Pinecrest (an apartment complex next to Quail Rise), we estimate more than 400 people will be affected by this exit. Speaking for the owner, he is strictly opposed to it.”

Council will take no action on the item until the property appraisal is done and an offer has been made to the owner. If it is not accepted, then a condemnation process will begin.

“We will make an offer to the property owner based on the fair market value of the property,” Sykes said. “If the owner chooses not to accept or negotiate a mutual agreement and we can’t reach a fair agreement, the city will begin a condemnation process. A special master — an attorney that bills in condemnation proceedings — will be appointed for the ruling. If the ruling is in the city’s favor, we will pay fair market value and take the land for public domain.”

The city budgeted approximately $300,000 for the project, which would be paid out of the recreation improvements allotment from the 2006 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, he said.

Once council puts the item on a meeting agenda, citizens will be given the opportunity to voice their concerns.

“There really is not an ideal solution,” Sykes said. “The city has to select the best option.”

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