Council Sets Recreation Plan Time Line

WINNSBORO – Fairfield County’s multi-million-dollar comprehensive recreation plan, which experienced a minor setback at Council’s Nov. 24 meeting, took a few baby steps forward Monday night with the authorization to purchase a plot of land in Blackstock for the construction of a mini park.

Council voted 6-0 to approve the deal Monday (District 3 Councilman Mikel Trapp was absent) for 2.3 acres on Overlook Road, between Ashford Road and Country Side Drive. According to County tax records, the property is currently owned by Carolyn Boulware and has an assessed value of $5,000. Boulware purchased the land for $2,800 in 1993, the records state. Milton Pope, County Administrator, told The Voice after the meeting that the County was ponying up $7,000 for the lot.

A similar move was scrubbed at Council’s Nov. 24 meeting when residents in the Center Creek community spoke out against the County’s plan to purchase 3.36 acres for a mini park near the intersection of Shoemaker and Center Creek roads. Don Quick, a resident of the Center Creek community, presented Council with a petition during the meeting that he said showed overwhelming opposition to the proposed park. Quick also offered some alternatives for the money the County had planned to spend on the land purchase and park construction.

“Why don’t they get us some fire hydrants on these side roads that don’t have any?” Quick proffered. “Why not pave some of these side roads that aren’t paved?”

Quick also suggested the County could take the $25,000 budgeted for the project, combine that with the County’s profit from last summer’s sale of 405 acres of land in the community, “and use it to pay the next interest payment on the ($24.6 million) bond,” Quick said.

Council voted 5-0 on Nov. 24 to drop the Center Creek park (District 4 Councilman Kamau Marcharia and District 7 Councilman David Brown were both absent from the Nov. 24 meeting).

During his report to Council Monday night, Pope sketched out what he called a “preliminary time line” for the County’s $3.5 million recreation plan. Pope said the County’s recreation consultants (Kenneth B. Simmons Associates and Genesis Consulting) would advertise RFQs (requests for qualifications) for contractors in the S.C. Budget and Control Board’s Business Opportunity publication beginning Dec. 10. Receipt of RFQs and a review of submissions would begin on Jan. 10, 2015, Pope said, while the designs for the plan’s multiple projects would be completed by Feb. 15. Bid packages would be sent to contractors on March 15, and on April 15 the County would begin accepting bids.

Unless those bids come in at significantly lower than anticipated prices, Council could face the task of trimming projects from their master plan. The plan, when it was revealed to the public for the first time last September, came in more than $600,000 over budget. Council last year OK’d $500,000 per district out of the 2013 $24.6 million economic development bond issue for recreation.

Only District 3 came in under budget, at $499,337, with a plan that includes four playgrounds and an outdoor basketball court. District 6, which has already seen approximately $380,000 dumped into the Drawdy Park football field project in the last year and a half, came in at $509,629 with a plan that includes converting the County’s former maintenance facility into a fitness center and adding lighting to the football field.

District 2’s plan for a community center and an EMS/recycling facility came in at $573,333. The remaining four district were between $117,000 and $144,000 over budget, with no existing land on which to construct the proposed facilities.

Pope said the contracts would be awarded on May 15, with construction getting under way by June 15. By Jan. 15, 2016, Pope said, construction on the projects would be “substantially completed.”