Two new sports complexes in York County could receive county funding to get off the ground, but not as much as their advocates may have hoped for.
The finance and operations committee of the York County Council gave its approval to funding from the county’s hospitality tax fund for both projects – the multi-field complex at Riverview Elementary School in Fort Mill and a York County Sports Complex near Crowders Creek Elementary School in Lake Wylie – but at only half of the requested amounts.
Planners for the Riverview Athletic Complex, which is supported by the Fort Mill school district, had asked for York County to fund the full cost of $3.2 million. The York County Sports Complex, supported by a private planning committee, asked for $4.9 million to fund basic construction costs of athletic fields as part of a larger $6.9 million development.
Instead, the county will propose funding $1.6 million of the cost of the Riverview complex, and $2.45 million of the Lake Wylie complex. The full York County Council will consider the requests in December.
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Watts Huckabee, who chairs the county’s hospitality tax committee, said the county is cautious about funding large capital projects out of a limited pool of hospitality funding, collected on restaurants in the unincorporated parts of the county.
“There’s definitely a need for more facilities like these, but the question is, ‘How do you pay for it?’” Huckabee said. “We had $12 million in requests, and only $6 million in the account.”
Tommy Schmolze, Fort Mill assistant superintendent, said the district doesn’t have any alternative funding sources available to pay for the second half of the project, although the district has been in discussions with the town of Fort Mill about additional funding.
If the district receives half of the funding, the school district will move forward with construction of four multi-purpose, artificial-turf fields officials hope will host traveling athletic tournaments. The district already has an agreement with Manchester Meadows in Rock Hill to host any overflow activities.
In recognition of the county hospitality funding, a special kiosk at Riverview would direct visitors to eateries and other businesses outside the town limits, such as restaurants in Baxter Village.
“As of right now, we’ll move forward with field development, and later we can add concession stands, team rooms, and permanent bathrooms,” Schmolze said. “But we don’t have a plan for what to carve out.”
He said the school district will request the full funding from the York County Council at its Dec. 7 meeting. “We’re thankful for any kind of funding we can get.”
The finance committee’s motion makes any funding for the York County Sports Complex dependent on the creation of a new special tax district that would fund the full cost.
Ron Domurat, who chairs the planning committee for the sports complex, said volunteers are circulating a petition for a referendum early next year to create a funding district along the lines of the Bethel Fire District.
Domurat estimates raising the full cost of the project over a 10-year bond will cost approximately $16 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home.
If approved by the district’s voters, work on the complex could begin in early 2017, so the complex could be ready for play by the fall sports seasons.
“I’m hoping we can get that $2 million as a down payment,” he said. “That way we can get started in August, in time for football, soccer and baseball.”