LAKE WYLIE -- The first piece to Lake Wylie's new lakefront law enforcement facility may be in place today, but it could be months before the center is fully operational.
A donated office building was set to be moved about 30 feet to its permanent location at 4755 E. Liberty Hill Road on Tuesday morning. Eventually, the three-acre property will include office space, a boat house and an access ramp for use by the York County Sheriff's Office and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, who will sublease the facility from the Lake Wylie Marine Commission. Boats and personal watercraft operated by the sheriff's office and DNR will be stored at the new facility, which officers say could reduce response time for lake incidents.
After receiving York County Zoning Board of Appeals approval in January, officials hoped the center would be operational by May. However, the facility will not be used until it's complete, said Joe Stowe, Lake Wylie Marine Commission chairman.
"If everything goes right, we'll have our office in there and our road within the next couple of months," he said.
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An entrance road, well and septic hookups and handicap accessibility are needed. While the boathouse could take longer, Stowe said, painting, cleaning and landscaping should be done by mid-summer.
Officials now are turning to finding funding. While the modular office building was donated, money is still needed for the road, ramp and boathouse. Stowe was not cost-specific, but said the price tag totals "a couple hundred thousand dollars." The marine commission is pledging money, along with efforts to petition York County and the York County legislative delegation.
"We're hoping we might be able to do it just with those sources," Stowe said. "If we can't, then we'll have to look somewhere else."
Rep. Herb Kirsh, who planned to meet with Stowe on Monday, doesn't think finding funding sources will be difficult.
"I feel like, personally, they can get the rest of the money," he said.
Already, he said, the York County Sportsmen's Steering Committee has pledged $30,000. A private group, it allocates money collected by state wildlife license fees and fines typically for land acquisitions such as Draper Wildlife Management Area in Rock Hill and the 357-acre Herb Kirsh Wildlife Conservation Area that opened a year ago in May near McConnells.
Kirsh also says York County, Duke Energy and other interest groups should help with the new facility.
The DNR, one of the agencies that will use the new law enforcement facility, currently operates and manages six York County preserves.
Tom Smith, who represents Lake Wylie on York County Council, said he expects a presentation from Stowe and others working on the project soon, possibly in May.
"I'll be looking for the council to hopefully get them whatever they need," Smith said.
With recent focus on water quantity because of the extreme drought and water quality because of buffer rules and other issues, Smith wants to make sure leaders continue to focus on Lake Wylie as a recreational lake and work to keep it safe.
"It just is needed for the area," Smith said. "We don't have an access point for the lake. All we have is boat landings. I think this is essential."
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