Fort Mill's new athletic park opens with 'ultimate' sport
A major recreation site in Indian Land received federal money aimed at improving rural communities.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced $243 million in rural community facility improvement investments on Wednesday. Schools, libraries, public service facilities and other projects were eligible. The money will go to projects in 22 states.
One of the items listed is almost $300,000 for the Upper Palmetto YMCA to help toward a new site in Indian Land. The money will refinance a Jobs Economic Development Authority bond.
A planned 74,000-square-foot YMCA would include outdoor sports facilities and a play area on more than 15 acres. The facility would employ about 125 people.
"Rural communities represent a wealth of opportunity," said Anne Hazlett, assistant to the secretary for rural development. "USDA is a partner in bringing those opportunities to life."
Brian Carnes, who represents Indian Land on Lancaster County Council, said he was aware the YMCA was looking to get some federal money for the project but Wednesday was the first he'd heard they would get it. The YMCA isn't part of ongoing county recreation improvements aimed at Indian Land, on county-owned land.
"They're looking at somewhere else," Carnes said.
Lancaster County officials have been planning for recreation improvements in Indian Land for some time. The county's administration committee meets Thursday night, where the county administrator and parks and recreation director will lead a discussion of a recent study on potentially expanding the current recreation center in Indian Land.
A separate item is the finalization of a project list for a parks and recreation bond vote this fall. Lancaster County Council would have to approve putting it on the ballot, at which point voters could decide whether they want to pay for new facilities. Council could decide as early as June.
The most recent pitch is for a $10.8 million bond. County leaders say that amount would mean $9 a year more in taxes on a $100,000 home.
The amount would put $4.5 million toward the Indian Land rec center addition and $2.5 million toward a soccer complex at the Harrisburg Road site owned by the county. Other projects countywide include $2.5 million for the Lindsay Pettus Greenway, $1.1 million for a soccer complex in Heath Springs and $200,000 in renovations for the Barr Street Auditorium.
The administration committee started bond discussions back in March. Hal Hiott, recreation department director, said then the Indian Land sites were key both because of residential growth there and, due to the area's geography so close to Charlotte, their ability to draw dollars from outside the county.
"The Indian Land recreation center and the development of the Harrisburg project is imperative because of the growth we have in that area," Hiott said.
Early plans had the bond at $8 million. The increase since adds money specifically to the Indian Land rec site.
Carnes said the idea of drawing people from outside the county, along with serving Indian Land, remains a big piece of the spending puzzle.
"That's definitely one of the things we're considering, is to have a facility up there," Carnes said.
Early indications are the full council would support putting a bond vote to the public.
"The discussion that we've had so far on it have been positive," Carnes said.
Plans aren't likely to change drastically with the addition of a YMCA site.
"Right now the county is moving forward with what the county is looking to do, but we are cognizant of the idea that if they do put a Y there, we may be able to have some partnerships," Carnes said.
A 74,000-square-foot YMCA would put it on par with some of the larger sites in the area. When Upper Palmetto YMCA opened a site at Riverwalk in Rock Hill in 2015, it came it at 15,000 square feet. The recreation complex on Tom Hall Street in Fort Mill, which the town takes over and the YMCA will run beginning next month, is about 60,000 square feet.
A facility the size of one listed for Indian Land isn't cheap, either. The Clover School District passed a bond for and built a 73,500-square-foot aquatic center on Crowders Creek that Upper Palmetto runs. That facility cost almost $18 million.