The Tega Cay Beach Club offers swimmers and sunbathers a view of Lake Wylie.
The Tega Cay Beach Club offers swimmers and sunbathers a view of Lake Wylie.

It might have been the 10 telephone party lines in constant need of repair that spawned Tega Cay's volunteerism and strong sense of community in the early 1970s.

As Tega Cay celebrates its 25th anniversary today, those qualities remain despite annexations that have expanded its boundaries and invited commercial development.

"The spirit of the community makes Tega Cay unique," said its first mayor, Tony Tarulli. "We would hold property owners association meetings and have 250 or more people there. The one thing that made Tega Cay great was how many people volunteered."

The Ervin Co. bought 1,600 acres on Lake Wylie from Duke Power in 1970 to develop a wooded recreation community of homes on a Polynesian theme. Homeowners organized to protect their interests from a series of developers and incorporated in 1982.

The town's first budget was estimated at between $50,000 and $60,000, according to one newspaper article in a large stack of scrapbooks dating to the town's origins at City Hall. The owner of a $70,000 home would pay $50 per year in taxes, it stated.

In 1984, the town bought a 4,000-square-foot former 7-11 convenience store and game room for $111,000 and turned it into a city hall.

Around the same time, the media filed a lawsuit to gain entry to the gated community. Not even school buses or mail carriers could enter. The media's main interest was to see what Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were up to in their manse, longtime residents said.

It was agreed the security gate should come down. The city started a police force instead.

In 2000, Stonecrest, Crescent and Nivens Creek Landing were annexed into the city, which still manages the community's many recreation facilities and mounts a huge July 4 celebration each year to fete the city and the nation's creation.

This is their 25th.

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