Dahlonega landowner Roberta Green-Garrett broke her silence in the simmering Parks Building debate that has raged in the town for more than a year, issuing a statement Friday morning that did not mention the controversy over the Ku Klux Klan sign hung from the building last week.
The debate over two protected historic buildings off the Dahlonega square came to the forefront of public attention Feb. 16 when a large banner was attached to one of the buildings that read, “Historic Ku Klux Klan Meeting Hall,” including an image of a hooded figure sporting the KKK symbol.
The sign stayed up for a day before city officials took it down over an ordinance violation. It touched off several days of protests from local residents, students and business owners in town angered by the symbol.
Green-Garrett made no mention of the banner in her statement, which said she has worked with the city of Dahlonega for two years to get her hotel built on the property where the Parks Building currently stands, but with no success.
“I own the property which is completely rotten and falling down and could be a hazard. I have no other motivation other than to bring businesses and tax revenue to the city regardless of what is said,” her statement read.
Green-Garrett went on to defend her plans, saying that an unnamed architect has “presented a drawing that meets historical requirements,” and saying that she has requested a, “final list of what needs to be done.”
In a phone interview Friday with the Times, Green-Garrett said that she would make no statement beyond what was said in her press release.
In reaction, Penny Sharp of Preserve Historic Dahlonega, a group not associated with the city, told the Times that the statement wasn’t what the group was hoping for.
“I don’t feel as though Mrs Garrett has been discriminated against in any way by the city of Dahlonega,” Sharp said in an email. “Instead, I think that Dahlonega’s leaders have bent over backward to accommodate her and her developments. Our group sent Mrs. Garrett a proposal for the total restoration of the Parks Building property that would not cost her a penny and could be used for any purpose. She declined the offer.
“In response to Mrs. Garrett’s claim that she has done so much for our town, I would remind her that she should be indebted to Dahlonega; Dahlonega’s citizens and UNG students have enriched her. Without the students and the people who rented from her, there would be no Roberta Green Garrett Properties.”
Dahlonega city officials had no further comments on Green-Garrett’s response, referring only to their previous statement on the town’s website.