Plans for Zion Hill coming together

WINNSBORO – About 50 residents from the Zion Hill and Fortune Springs communities gathered at the former Fairfield High School building on Jan. 30 to learn how a new $487,568 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) will be used to implement projects in their communities.

It was the third community meeting about the revitalization process. At this meeting, project partners Fairfield County Community Development and Planning Director Chris Clausen and Gregory Sprouse, Director of Research, Planning and Development for Central Midlands Council of Governments (CMCOG) reviewed the details of the grant and answered questions.

The first phase of grant work will include the demolition and clearance of approximately 40 dilapidated and vacant structures, according to Sprouse, but he said there is still preliminary work to be done before demolition can proceed.

“There are a lot of things we need to do before we’ll actually see anything being constructed,” Sprouse said. “That includes the environmental review process – which we’re working on now – and putting it out for public comment, contacting relevant agencies, and other grant requirements. We cannot spend any grant money until the properties are environmentally cleared by the Department of Commerce,” he said. “That’s a big thing. I would say that’s not going to be done before mid-April or May. If all goes well, maybe by fall we can have some demolition underway.”

Besides the demolition, Sprouse said the County will be using some of the grant money for the beautification of the Zion neighborhood park – additional lighting, traffic calming signs in the area, adding security cameras and other improvements.

Sprouse, Clausen and planner John Newman spent the better part of the summer analyzing the needs of the Zion Hill and Fortune Springs Park neighborhoods. They walked the neighborhood visiting with residents and finding out what can be done to help bring the neighborhood back to its glory days.

While they found the needs to be many, Sprouse said the initial focus will be on the demolition and cleanup of the 40 structures.

Sprouse said he hopes the county can get the project underway by the spring.