It’s been a long time coming — too long, one official says — but construction can now start on a permanent trash and recycling site for Fort Mill.
York County Council approved a more than $1.8 million bid on Feb. 4 for Rock Hill-based Leitner Construction to build a site for trash and recycling -- more familiarly called a convenience center -- on Fort Mill Parkway. The site replaces one unexpectedly lost back in 2016, and a temporary site that has since been set up.
“It’s taken too long to get to this point, but I am glad that we’re moving forward,” said Councilwoman Christi Cox, whose district includes the new site.
Since 1983 the county had leased 964 Tom Hall St., across from the recreation complex now owned by the Town of Fort Mill, on an annual basis. In the summer of 2016, the county learned the property owner didn’t want to re-new the deal. The property quickly appeared in a Carolinas HealthCare System — now Atrium Health — project to build a medical office facility, with out parcels, that would be annexed into the town.
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The convenience center lease was set to expire at the end of July 2016. The county and property owner extended it several times as the county scrambled to find another site. County leaders told area residents to prepare to travel to Baxter -- about four miles through Fort Mill’s dense traffic. That would be the nearest of the county’s 16 convenience center sites.
The county opened a temporary site in March 2017. The 1390 Hensley Road location is near where the final site will be. It’s smaller, more convenient, and doesn’t take all the items the former site did -- nor that the new site will take. It does give residents an option for getting rid of household waste, bulky items and recyclable materials.
In April 2017 the county bought land at the corner of West Hensley and Fort Mill Parkway for the permanent replacement site. In January 2018 county leaders learned that site would be delayed a second time because of wetlands that hadn’t been discovered in the purchase process. A month later council members were upset to hear the site wouldn’t be done until February 2019.
Cox said now the county needs to evaluate what happened. She wants other leased sites identified and work done to buy land there or elsewhere, rather than waiting for another lease surprise.
“As we all know, there has been a lot of concern raised by why it’s taken us so long to get to this point,” she said. “And I do think that council needs to take a closer look at that to avoid this problem happening again.
“I’m very glad that we’re finally at the point where we’re approving a construction contract, and we couldn’t ask for a better contractor.”
The county held a bid conference in December and received three bids on Jan. 22. After a prospective low bid was disqualified due to the contractor’s state licensing board classification, Leitner was selected. Leitner has several county projects in its portfolio. The contractor currently is working on the Moss Justice Center expansion.
The permanent site is 4.6 acres. It may not be the end of convenience center work in the area. Before the surprise closing of the Tom Hall Street site, the county already was looking to add a new site to keep up with community growth in unincorporated Fort Mill.
The ordeal in Fort Mill caused the county to evaluate all 16 of its sites. The Baxter site is one of two still on leases, something the county is working to fix.
“There are two other properties like this and we are working on getting ownership at this time,” said Bill Shanahan, county manager.
According to the latest county construction schedule, work should begin in March and run through July.