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Letter: What a simple phone call will reveal

Posted: April 26, 2018 3:05 p.m.
Updated: April 27, 2018 1:00 a.m.

After hearing all of the “noise” about the “Wateree River Park” (a tentative name -- not a permanent one) I decided to talk to several council members and attempt to get some facts regarding what’s going on and what the plan is for the proposed park. Here are some things I found out from talking with county officials, council members and some of my own observations/research.

• The county paid $425,000 for the property. The assessed value was far less, which is common for land registered as farm land. The assessed value has little to no bearing on purchase price.

• Accomodations Tax (ATAX) funds paid for the property and will, likely, pay for the development. Your property taxes didn’t go up to pay for it. Money was not diverted from other areas to pay for it. There wasn’t a choice made between SROs and the park. The funds are earmarked for tourism-related items only.

• The land is in a flood plain, as is every river front park in the state. Plans are to look at what other communities have done and employ similar building techniques when we build ours.

• There is no credible information that anyone in government benefited personally from the purchase or sale of the property.

• County practice is to place a sign on “future sites” to be developed by the county. (There’s one at the EMS station in Bethune, too.). While the sign in the water may not have been the best idea, the fact that it’s partially under water isn’t indicative of anything except that the river level rises and falls.

• A public input period will occur giving residents a chance to provide feedback on what they want to see on the site. Things being considered are walking trails, board walk, amphitheater, picnic areas, etc.

• Yes, it floods periodically. However, so do our recreation fields (baseball and soccer in particular.). When those areas flood, they’re unusable until the water recedes and they dry out. I’ve not (yet) heard anyone advocate for closing the recreation fields or argue that they’re a bad investment, even though they’re probably unusable more than a properly constructed riverfront park would be.

• With much talk from a vocal minority about “Camden’s elite,” this project provides access to one of Kershaw County’s most prized possessions -- the Wateree River -- by all citizens, not just those that can afford lake property or boats.

As always, I’m amazed at what you can find out if you pick up the phone (or visit) those hired or elected to make decisions and/or represent us -- especially if you don’t assume they’re “out to take our hard earned money” and, instead, really do want what’s best for Kershaw County. We can (respectfully) disagree on how best to accomplish the goals, but to imply that people elected and hired to serve want less than that, is, in my opinion, disingenuous.


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