I recently sent John Taylor, director of the Rock Hill Department of Parks and Recreation, a letter in which I presented to him and the city the idea that now is the perfect time to establish a nature museum in the city. It would appear that the Museum of York County is going in the direction of culture and heritage of the surrounding area instead of nature and the environment.
To that end, I have suggested a museum concentrating on the animals and environments that are indigenous to the Catawba River Valley. I believe that such a facility could be put in place at the now-developing Riverwalk Park. This museum could display in natural settings those animals that are found within the environs of the Catawba River.
I have taken my collection of native reptiles and amphibians to most of the Earth Day functions at the Museum of York County as well as to many schools in the area, and find that the public is interested in learning about such creatures. This nature museum would be unique in that it would display the reptiles, amphibians, fish, small mammals and larger birds that have been too injured to be returned to the wild, which are found in and immediately around the river.
Done right, it could even display the creatures that were once in the area but were all killed off by humans.
There will be those who say the city cannot afford to undertake such an endeavor at present. I would hope that there would be many businesses, organizations and individuals who would be willing to help with such a facility.
Rock Hill seems to have no trouble supporting bicycle venues, soccer fields, baseball facilities, etc. Yet it cannot find the will to support our natural heritage of this area.
A museum also would fit right in with the mission statement of the city, which is to develop facilities of this type.
I would remind everyone that sports programs are not going to go away. The same cannot be said for the natural world and natural environments.
To those who say why now and why the Riverwalk Park, I would offer that the area borders the Catawba River, it has infrastructure in place, it is ideally located close to Interstate 77, and it soon will be too developed for anything like a nature museum to find a place to fit in.
Kenneth Wagner is a resident of York. Any groups or individuals in the area who are interested in his proposal can get in touch with him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (803) 684-6705.