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Report: Methodist Conference Votes to Close Down Simpsonwood

The 2,000-member organization made the decision Wednesday in Athens during its annual conference.

Simpsonwood Retreat & Conference Center
Simpsonwood Retreat & Conference Center

Citing ongoing operating losses, the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church voted to close the 227-acre Simpsonwood Retreat & Conference Center in Peachtree Corners.

The 2,000-member organization made the decision Wednesday in Athens during its annual conference, the Gwinnett Daily Post reported.

An attorney for the Methodist group said the conference is in discussions to sell the property to Gwinnett County as a park.

Read more on the Post

The property was once owned by Miss Ludie Simpson, who deeded it over to the United Methodist Church so it would remain as she requested, "to keep the land so that all people could enjoy God's beautiful creation."

Last year, Patch reported a Gwinnett County judge ruled that the restrictive covenants that governed how the pristine land that fronts the Chattahoochee River could be used had expired. That opened the door for the UMC to sell the property.

in April, magistrate judge ruled neighbors had no standing in the private property case, the Post reported.

Check out these Patch stories on Simpsonwood:

 

AL June 12, 2014 at 04:50 PM
This raises a few questions: (1) Can the public still access the park for hiking & jogging purposes? (it would be a shame if it's designated as "No Trespassing" territory); (2) How sincere/realistic are their efforts to sell Simpsonwood to the county as a park? (since that's likely to be a far less lucrative option vs competing interest from residential developers); (3) If it does remain a park after it's sold, would there be any consideration to designate it as a "Nature Preserve" (like nearby Autrey Mill) rather than a "park"? (in hopes of preserving the land as close as possible to it's current natural state).
Jessica Ammons June 13, 2014 at 08:12 AM
the public can still access it through the end of the year. regardless of what many seem to think, yes the conference would like to sell it to someone would turn it into greenspace....unfortunately, nobody seems to have the money to undertake the project. the conference has tried multiple times to make offers with the county, state, etc. they do not want to sell to a developer...but, if that is the only option, what else do they do? the residents of peachtree corners certainly aren't contributing anything more than their criticism. (and this is coming from a norcross resident who was a member of simpsonwood methodist) sorry, can't answer your 3rd question at this point.
AL June 13, 2014 at 10:14 AM
I think both sides (Church and PTC residents) have been unfairly critical, largely due to miscommunication. Now they’re both too defensive in there stance towards one another to understand each respective side...it’s too bad they can’t help each other. For the record, this PTC resident respectfully sought permission from the Simpsonwood office before using their park for hiking/jogging, and received a nice email reply welcoming me (and all locals) to use it as needed. But, never once did the church ask for anything in return. I would’ve been happy to pay an admission fee or annual membership dues to use the park. I’ve seen other parks with cast iron lock boxes containing a slot and signage asking for monetary donations, but never anything like this at Simpsonwood (I'd even offer to volunteer my time to them if it would help). Why have I not seen any sort of “Help Simpsonwood” community fund-raising events held at the park? Why no mailings, flyers or door-to-door communications outlining the situation and asking for help? I’m not a member of the Simpsonwood Methodist church so I don’t know what kind of help they seek from within (regarding the park), but I’ve been curious why they haven’t been more open to the surrounding residents in their needs and intentions, and in turn why the residents haven’t been more forthcoming to offer helpful solutions to this dilemma (perhaps the CSC should’ve taken this approach). It’s a shame this has turned into a bitter feud. One more opinion from the residents’ standpoint: we’ve seen far too many hush-hush backdoor deals leading to unfair and unnecessary land development (not just here but all through Gwinnett county), and we’ve been stung too many times from the results of such dealings, so it’s easy to understand why we’re upset with the Simpsonwood situation. I also realize that the donation/fee/volunteer options I pondered above may result in only a drop in the bucket for what the church really needs to keep Simpsonwood going as-is, but it might also result in something more substantial if given a chance. It would be ideal if both sides would agree to stop bickering and hold an open forum to seek each others calm and constructive input...before Simpsonwood park becomes "Simpsonwood Estates". It's never too late.

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