Perry Johnston had a championship team but never his own ballfield. He hoped to have one for his children, then his grandchildren.
“I’ve been working on it now for 14 years,” said the former York County councilman and Lake Wylie resident. “And hopefully, we’ll finally get a place that maybe my great-grandchildren from Conway can come up here and play a ballgame on these fields one day.”
Johnston wasn’t alone Friday morning in celebrating a groundbreaking for a sports park a long time coming.
Tom Smith, like Johnston a former councilman and long-time park leader in Lake Wylie, said the park dates back to a 2003-04 land-use plan. Two Council members before Smith worked on it, and two have since.
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“It just takes a while to get there,” Smith said.
Smith secured 50 acres along Crowders Creek during his tenure, but the county didn’t have money to build anything. Lake Wylie voters agreed in 2016 to set up a tax district, which along with money from county hospitality tax revenue, will build the $9.45 million site. It will have baseball and soccer fields, picnic and gathering areas.
“All these things came together, and we’re here today,” Smith said.
Ron Domurat, who went from a leadership role with Lake Wylie Athletic Association to pushing for the tax district now to serving on that tax district board, had his own appreciation for how far the group has come. He also had his eye toward the larger issue of recreation needs in a community bubbling with new residential and commercial growth.
“This is only the beginning of what we’re doing in the parks in Lake Wylie,” Domurat said. “Because by the time this one’s built, we’re going to need another one.”
A place for people to gather and play is part of growth, Smith said. As frustrating as growth issues such as traffic and infrastructure may be, he said, it’s important to remember it’s a thriving community causing the issues.
“We have good problems in this area,” Smith said.
The new park should take about a year to build at the Paddlers Cove subdivision on Field Day Lane,. It will host area recreation games, along with tournaments.
“It’s gonna be a heck of a park,” said Councilwoman Allison Love said.