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Sunday, January 26, 2020
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Feb.15 - Forsyth Park Visitors Center, Stage and Cafe Officially Open

By Lou Phelps


Every twenty years or so, a vision comes true, and it did last Friday afternoon when the idea of renovating the performance stage at Forsyth Park and creating a visitors center and café finally came to fruition, an idea first discussed in the late 1980’s by civic groups holding events at the park.  


Now termed “one of the most beautiful public facilities in the country,” by City Manager Michael Brown and a host of public officials and business leaders, the official ribbon-cutting of the combined facility was held in the cold and rain at the Café at Forsyth Park. But the weather did not dampen spirits of the City Alderman in attendance.


“You made it a success,” said Mayor Pro Tem Edna Jackson, speaking of the public’s support of the 1 cents sales tax SPLOST several years ago which funded the renovation, “and now only you can make it a success,” she added, hoping that the public will take care of the facility and not mar it with graffiti


Surveillance cameras have been installed, however, explained Brown, and already the police have been called to chase away skateboarders. 


The facility has a beautiful public café and restrooms, which will be managed by The Kessler Collection. The company is the developer and owner of the four-star Mansion at Forsyth Park on Drayton St., which looks directly at the new visitor center.


 “Needless to say, I’m thrilled to have it completed,” said the company’s chairman and CEO Richard C. Kessler, who came from Orlando for the event. “We’ve been looking at chain link fence for two years, so this is a great day.”


The upscale café offers sandwiches, salads, beverages and desserts, as well as leather couches and tables and chairs to enjoy a meal, or take a rest. 


The archictect/planner Thomas H. Perdue, of Design Affiliation Architecture of Jacksonville, was on hand as was Jim Rayburn, P.E., and president of RWP Engineering of Savannah, whose company did all of the plumbing and electrical work.  “You HAVE to see the bathrooms,” laughed Jackson, pointing out how nice they were for a public facility. 


The visitor center has been sorely needed for Savannah’s more than six million tourists who couldn’t find a bottle of water on a hot summer afternoon, or a public restroom, once they walked south of Liberty St.  And, it’s a boon for local residents and families that use the park extensively for recreation and events.

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