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County-wide projects considered by tax commission

Posted: June 26, 2012 7:45 p.m.
Updated: June 27, 2012 5:00 a.m.

In 2010, Kershaw County Council tasked six county residents with providing a capital project improvement plan for the county.

The six-member commission picked a variety of capital projects to, ultimately, be funded by an eight year, 1-percent sale tax. The proposal, however, failed after county voters rejected the idea on an 11,591 to 9,376 vote during the November general election that year.

Council revived the proposal in March, but this time decided to focus squarely on recreational opportunities. Six county residents were once again given the job of selecting the potential projects. The commission met several times in May and June to create a plan, resulting in a list of 11 projects to be funded this time by a six-year, 1 percent tax.

Commission Chairman Ray McElveen said the group’s goal was to find projects that would benefit the entire county, using research and data gathered from the county’s recently updated recreational master plan.

“We had a good group that was very diligent and passionate in getting things taken care of for the whole community,” McElveen said. “We really wanted to enhance the quality of life for all Kershaw County residents.”

He noted that the commission’s focus was to try to improve the county’s existing facilities.

“We wanted to evaluate what we already had, but also upgrade as well, without going out and immediately building new facilities. We wanted to try and see what we could fix up and then build as we need it,” he said.

The commission’s list of recommended projects, in order of priority:

• construction of a recreational complex/community center at Seaboard Park, located 1126 Laurens St. Ext., Camden -- the upgrades included new Kershaw County Recreation Department offices, community center rooms, a gymnasium complex, ball fields, a walking track, picnic shelters, a Miracle League/Handicap Accessible facility, a playground, and lighting for facilities; 

• addition of a removable pool enclosure at the Kershaw County Aquatic Center, located on Battleship Road, Camden;

• improvements to the Kershaw County West Complex, located at 519 Whitehead Road, Lugoff -- upgrades would include the refurbishing of existing baseball and soccer fields, construction of new fields, new lighting, added picnic shelters; and a playground;

• improvements to a tennis facility located on York Street in Camden;

• improvements to Woodward Park located at 82 Ballpark Road, Camden -- they would be the same as those at the Kershaw County West Complex;

• construction of a park in Elgin with handicap access, picnic shelters, and walking trails, as well as improvements to the existing tennis court in Elgin;

• refurbishing of existing ball field at Mt. Pisgah, located at 5193 Mount Pisgah Road, Kershaw;

• Bethune playground improvements and amendments to the community center;

• improvements to U.S. 1 boat ramp on Wateree River in Lugoff;

• the construction of a multi-purpose community center at the site of the proposed park in Elgin; and

• improvements to the Westville tennis courts.

In total, the projects would cost a combined $25.3 million.

McElveen said each project would help in attracting visitors to the community as well as keeping residents in the county.

“There are counties all around us that have the facilities that we just don’t have. We’re losing residents in surrounding counties now for better facilities. There’s a lot of money leaving us every year going out of the county,” he said.

McElveen noted in particular that the county is missing out when it comes to drawing recreation tournaments for baseball and soccer.

“There are a lot of teams in South Carolina playing tournaments and they’re going to Lexington, Aiken, Myrtle Beach and Sumter. They’re leaving us and going there. As far as baseball, you’re talking about 30 to 50 teams in a tournament, 15 to 20 times a year. With soccer, you’re looking at 80 to 100 teams per tournament,” he said. “The biggest thing is the economic impact that it has on the county. They’re coming in, buying gas, staying in hotels, shopping in stores, eating in restaurants, that’s the money that’s being generated back into the county.”

Council was set to vote Tuesday on first reading of an ordinance approving the commission’s proposal.

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