Valdosta community split over land for veterans memorial

| July 7, 2017

VALDOSTA – After its groundbreaking over a year ago, a controversy has arisen over a veterans memorial that should be under construction.

A couple say they own the land, next to Tom’s Pond in Lake Park, and are battling the community over what happens next.

“It brings a negative light,” says Russell McLeod, and Army veteran. “It tears at the seams of morale when you have personal interest versus best interest for the whole sum of the community.”

McLeod says it’s been over a year and still, no memorial.

But there is a new flag pole, power box and a fence, and it’s causing big problems.

Former a mayor and a current city councilwoman, Keith and Jena Sandlin, say they own the land.

“That will cut me out of the pond,” Sandlin explains. “I wont have water rights.”

Residents say a temporary wall near the memorial site represents two things – the divide between two properties and the divide in the community.

Sandlin continued “If it’s a certified property line, that’s fine.”

However, public records obtained from City Hall show otherwise.

In fact, the latest survey of the property shows the correct line is where the fence is, and that it’s been that way for decades.

“There’s a lot of back and forth of self interest, whether it be personal gain or whatever,” said McLeod.

Sandlin believes “the city council should be in control of the veterans park, not private citizens.”

The city council is now discussing a committee to manage the park. But a lack of trust and a conflict of interest has residents worrying.

Former Lake Park mayor Keith Sandlin explains “She is going to do what she thinks is right, and I think the other city council members are too.”

A city council meeting will be held on July 11, where they’ll read over an ordinance about making a committee for the park.

Both parties say they plan to attend and voice their concerns.

(WCTV Eyewitness News)

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