Crowders Creek park plan moving forward

jmarks@lakewyliepilot.comAugust 28, 2013 

— Within two months, planners of Lake Wylie’s proposed park near Crowders Creek hope to have a firm plan for the county to consider.

Last week York County Council approved more than $14,000 for an engineering agreement with Keck and Wood, Inc. At the Aug. 19 meeting Council changed the funding source from its general fund to hospitality tax funding, but otherwise approved it unanimously.

“This project has been funded by hospitality tax dollars up until now, and I’d like to see that continue before we have the discussion on spending general fund money,” said Councilman Chad Williams.

Councilman Joe Cox said hospitality funding is a better fit, anyway.

“It, in action, is a hospitality-type item,” he said.

The county already owns 50 acres in the Crowders Creek area as part of a 2007 planned development pushed by former Council member Tom Smith. Then early last year Council approved $30,000 for planning and design work. The total figure for the park came back at $11.2 million, a number both Council and park proponents said was far too high.

“It was very high,” said Smith, who estimates the park can be completed for half that total, “and it was based on the best of the best type of facility.”

After Council’s decision last week, Smith said he hopes to have a full park plan with community partners -- they’re talking with the Town of Clover, Clover School District, Lake Wylie Athletic Association, Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce and corporate commitments to work out maintenance and other issues -- ready for a decision within 60 days.

“We’re just trying to get the park built,” he said. “The support is there from the Council. We just have to get everything figured out.”

Councilman Bruce Henderson, who represents the area where the park will be, also said in the next 50 days or so he expected “some information that is solid” on the park plan.

“This is really, really long overdue,” Henderson said.

Chairman Britt Blackwell said at the meeting a Crowders Creek park is a needed addition.

“Quality of life is important in York County and there’s a need for a park in that area, no doubt about it,” he said.

The final plan Council will see likely will include about three baseball fields and four to six soccer fields. It could be similar to Cherry Park in Rock Hill. The park could be paid for and built in phases to reduce the cost on a one-time vote. Planners would like to see a 20- to 25-year bond used that will be paid for through the county’s hospitality tax fund.

The county charges an additional 2 percent on food items in unincorporated areas and a committee recommends how Council should spend those dollars on tourism-generating projects. Park planners say a lion’s share of those dollars comes from the Lake Wylie area, by population one of the county’s largest but also still unincorporated.

Down to issues like who’ll maintain the fields and how partners can help, Smith believes the project is moving well down its homestretch.

“What we’re doing is filling in the blanks,” he said, “as far as the answering all the questions and concerns.”

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