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County launches recreational facility meetings

Posted: February 3, 2012 1:26 p.m.
Updated: February 6, 2012 5:00 a.m.

About fifteen people gathered in the Kershaw County Government Center in Camden Thursday to hear an overview of and provide feedback on the county’s recreational offerings. Thursday’s was the first of seven public forums to be held across the county.

County Administrator Vic Carpenter said the county is looking to update its recreation master plan created in 2002.

“That plan was based on a compilation of meetings with the community to try to understand what the citizens of Kershaw County wanted in recreation,” Carpenter said.

He said this month’s public meetings would provide a similar process to help craft an updated recreational outlook.

“We want you to let us know what you want to see in recreation and what your vision is for what the recreation plans should be for the county.”

Camden resident Sarah Williams said she believes the county needs to upgrade its indoor recreational facilities.

“I’d like to see indoor tennis courts. I think the tennis courts around here are pretty well used outdoors so I think it would be great when the weather is not that good. And I’d also like to see an indoor pool so they could teach the children to swim during the school year and older people could use it as well for therapy,” Williams said.

Another Camden resident, Mark Wobecky, said he would like to see more walking and hiking trails.

“I know a lot of the parks specify like a half-mile track within the park, but I was thinking larger scale like from one park to another or out in some of the other natural areas.”  

Several other suggestions were made for added recreational programs and facilities including biking trails, new fishing areas, additional golf courses, and paddle sport programs.  

Ryan Slattery and Stephen Staley, of Alliance Consulting Engineers, also attended the meeting, outlining the county’s current recreational facilities. The county brought Alliance in to work with county staff and community members to help update the master recreation plan.

Slattery said it’s important for communities to revisit their recreational plans every 10 years.

“The implementation and the needs change so much in a 10-year time frame from population to demographics to the employers who are in the area,” Slattery. “That’s what we’re here doing: starting that process.”

Slattery said it’s also vital for a community to “engage” available green space in order to provide recreational opportunities for its citizens.  

“It’s so important for people to have recreation,” he said. “Parks are one of the quickest and most effective ways to build a sense a community and improve the quality of life.”

Slattery also said that by having viable recreational opportunities, it helps to attract businesses and promote economic development.

“When folks tour an area, it’s important that there’s a good recreational program in place. For example, if there’s a Fortune 500 company that comes to visit and there’s no recreational plan and there’s nothing for their children to do there, then where are they going to locate? There or the adjacent community that has recreational programs?” Slattery said.

He indicated it’s essential for the company to reach out to all communities and talk about individual facilities in all the towns of Kershaw County.  

“After we have all the data and the community’s feedback, we will develop strategies and then a capital improvement plan,” Slattery said. “After that, it’s up to the community to approve, implement, monitor, review, and update the plan.”

Additional recreational public forums are scheduled for 7 p.m. today at North Central High School; 9 a.m. Saturday at Leslie M. Stover Middle School; 7 p.m. Feb. 13 at Lugoff-Elgin High School; 7 p.m. Feb. 16 at Bethune Woman’s Club; 7 p.m. Feb. 20 at Mt. Pisgah Elementary School; and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Kershaw County Government Center. For more information on the forums, call 425-6009.

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