Recreation Relocation Sparks Backlash

WINNSBORO (April 1, 2016) – County Council’s plans, announced during their Feb. 15 meeting, to relocate a recreation center originally destined for the Dawkins community to Jenkinsville continues to raise hackles, and Monday night Council received a dose of negative feedback from citizens still upset by the move.

During his Feb. 15 report to Council, Interim County Administrator Milton Pope said the rec facility planned for a site on Ladds Road near Lake Monticello had run into permitting problems with the Federal Emergency Regulatory Commission (FERC). The County leases the Ladds Road property from the SCANA Corp. for recreation; however, the land, because of its proximity to the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station, is ultimately managed by FERC. Any improvements built on the site would have to get the Commission’s OK, which Pope said on Feb. 15 would have pushed construction back there by as much as six months.

Instead, Pope said last month, the County would be constructing the facility at Monticello Park, also known as Overlook Drive Park.

The good news: the move will cost the County less, Pope said, as a walking trail and outdoor basketball courts – part of the Ladds Road plan – already exist at Monticello Park. The bad news: the Dawkins community will not be getting their long-promised recreation facility.

“For some reason I knew we wouldn’t get the rec in the Dawkins area. I knew it from day one,” Bruce Wadsworth, a Dawkins resident and recreation advocate, told Council during Monday night’s second public comment session. “You made your decision and you’re going to move it. It’s going to hurt that community a great deal still. Still we have to travel (to reach recreation facilities).”

Wadsworth suggested Council could, if Ladds Road was out of the question, locate the facility at Willie Lee Robinson Park, which he said would serve Dawkins and Blair.

Deviating from Council policy, Chairwoman Carolyn Robinson (District 2) responded to the public’s complaints. There was no room at Willie Lee Robinson Park, she said, for the facility, and efforts to secure additional space had been unsuccessful.

“Four or five years ago we tried to buy additional property at that area so that we could have that location to do something,” Robinson said, “but nobody would sell us any land.”

Working through the permitting with FERC, Robinson said, would have added “another year to two years” to the project; and, she said, “the money would be gone by that point.”

But last month, Pope told Council the permitting issue would have added only six months to the project, a time frame District 7 Councilman Billy Smith said Tuesday that he recalled being accurate.

“Two years is not a figure I had been given,” Smith said. “(Last night was) the first time I’d heard a figure such as that.”

Phone calls to Robinson for clarification were not returned at press time Tuesday. Pope, however, told The Voice Tuesday that the County was told by SCANA that it would be at least “several months before we even got an answer” on permitting, he said. “Then after that, there was no guarantee when it could move forward.”

“No one’s ever said two years,” Pope said, “but it was an indefinite amount of time, and we had a finite amount of time – by year’s end – to get the projects completed.”

The Monticello Park location, Pope said, is only 5.7 miles from the Ladds Road site, and once completed will be “a very nice, urbanized park.”

“All this other stuff is just crap,” Pope said of the outcry against the move. “It’s all politics to try to get Kamau Marcharia out of office.”

Jeff Schaffer, also speaking during the second public comment portion of Monday’s meeting, placed the blame for the permitting oversight at the feet of County Council, specifically District 4 representative Kamau Marcharia.

“You’ve been derelict in your duty. You don’t represent the Dawkins community or District 4 or its desires for recreation as promised,” Schaffer said. “You and the engineering firm should have made sure permits were in place before you put the sign up.”

Furthermore, Schaffer said, the County hired a consulting firm (Genesis Consulting Group) to oversee the project, and between the three entities – the County, the engineers and the consultants – someone should have done their homework years ago.

Smith, who noted that he was not on Council when the recreation plan was unveiled or when the consultants were hired, said that from a public standpoint he thought the consultants “were supposed to help the County spend that $3.5 million in recreation money. Instead,” Smith said, “they just wrote down whatever Council wanted them to write down.”

Administration, Smith said, should have discovered the permitting problem and brought it back to Council long ago.

“I think it’s the County’s fault that it didn’t do due diligence on its own property,” Smith said. “Now that we’ve found this out, although it’s not going to work this time, for the future we should go ahead and do the due diligence on that property in case we want to locate something there in the future.”

What Council did not want, according to Smith, was another delay to recreation in Western Fairfield.

“We already had contracted with a construction company,” Smith said. “I was told we had already purchased the materials. We already have one building in storage in a warehouse somewhere. I didn’t want another one.”

Robinson also said Monday night that the current recreation plan will not be the last for Fairfield County, but moving on the District 4 plan, wherever it went, was an imperative.

The permitting situation, she said, put Council in the position of “You either get it (at Monticello Park) or you get nothing, and this was the only location that was ready to go.”

“It’s a start,” Robinson said. “It’s a beginning. It doesn’t say recreation is going to be ended. It’s going to be ongoing. This is the best that Council could do with the monies that are available at this point.”

And to the public still angry over Council’s decision, Robinson threw down the gauntlet with echoes of former District 3 Councilman Mikel Trapp.

“I’m just going to issue every one of you a challenge tonight,” Robinson said. “If you think you can do better, put your name on the ballot in November.”



  1. Pat Hall Williams says

    In regards to Chairwoman Robinson’s challenge, I ask her, as well as the 2 other long-timed remaining Council members…WHERE’s Councilman TRAPP NOW after issuing the challenge, “BEAT ME AT THE BALLOT BOX” ??

  2. Pat Hall Williams says

    In regards to Chairwoman Robinson’s challenge, I ask her, as well as the
    2 other long-timed remaining Council members…WHERE’s Councilman TRAPP
    NOW after issuing the challenge, “BEAT ME AT THE BALLOT BOX” ??

  3. Mark Polk says

    Mr. Pope, your comment about politics is inappropriate. Even if true, your position as Interim Administrator prevents you from offering a public opinion on Council members or potential challengers.

  4. liberal and disgusted says

    Again POLITICS as usual and nothing positive , First lets say good bye to Pope he’s a do nothing yes man. And bottom line Marcharia is not going to get re-elected he knows that ,we know that, and that is it! Spin the facts any way you like the truth is this. They knew in plenty of time that FERC did not approve the sight, All it would have taken is 2- maybe 6 months for a final approval still leaving plenty of time to get it done. However, they the powers that be Marcharia ( his buddy ) GINYARD all conspired to get the project moved to Jenkinsville and that my friends is where it is. Until we rid ourselves of the vermin who represent themselves in the name of you all
    We will never see day light in this county.

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