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YMCA finalizing Lake Wylie aquatic center plans

Upper Palmetto YMCA leaders are finalizing aquatic center plans as other continue to promote the need for a park in Lake Wylie.

Moe Bell, Upper Palmetto chief executive officer, said by the end of the year the YMCA expects to finalize details for the aquatic center, approved by voters in March as part of the Clover School District’s $67 million bond referendum.

The layout is 56,000 square feet, but could increase. The facility will have a six-lane and four-lane indoor pool, and possibly a 50-meter outdoor pool. The center is expected to be open by May, 2016.

“If we add in a couple of things, we’re looking at it will actually be a little bit bigger than Baxter,” Bell said.

A soccer field also is part of the plan. The property sits on S.C. 274 between Crowders Creek Elementary School and its namesake cove.

The aquatics center is one part of a movement for more recreation in the Lake Wylie area.

The county hospitality tax advisory committee met Oct. 21 with recreation stakeholders, including rec departments, school boards and Winthrop University athletics staff. Issues discussed included the cost of synthetic versus natural turf, candidates for the next women’s sport at Winthrop, and whether field hockey will join lacrosse as the next big wave in York County.

“We would like to give a perspective of what this county needs as a whole,” said Watts Huckabee, advisory group chairman. “We’re going to project a vision for the county.”

The hospitality tax brings in about $1.8 million annually.

“Sports tourism is big business,” said John Taylor, director of Rock Hill Parks, Recreation & Tourism. “I don’t know that we’re always working together.”

The main concern in Lake Wylie is 50 acres of county-owned land on Crowders Creek planned for a park.

“We don’t know how it’s going to end,” Huckabee said of the push to use hospitality tax money for the park. “We know it’s a sensitive issue.”

Former York County councilman Perry Johnston, who is working to create a sports commission in Lake Wylie, said the hospitality tax should benefit the whole county, including Lake Wylie.

“We’re trying to get in the game,” he said. “We want to be part of the county, too.

“Our children are playing under power lines and on school district fields, in church yards,” he said. “We just want one the field.”

The park plan would include maintenance partnerships, the idea being it could be used for recreation during the week and tourism-generating tournaments on weekends.

“Every community needs ballfields,” Taylor said. “Every community needs to have something for their children to do. I don’t envy ya’ll’s situation.”

Advisory member Tom Smith said the value of a park in Lake Wylie is there.

“We don’t want to overbuild,” he said, “but when you don’t have anything, it sure would be nice to have something.”

The hospitality tax group expects to receive funding applications in the new year.