The park may still happen, but it won’t come soon.
Duke Energy has withdrawn its application for a public service use designation needed to build a waterfront park in Rock Hill. The move doesn’t, according to the company, mean the park plan is dead.
“We asked for the zoning request to be temporarily withdrawn to provide an opportunity to address concerns raised by the public during the December public hearing,” said Duke spokesperson Kim Crawford. “We still plan to construct new public recreation amenities at this site.”
It isn’t just a public gesture. Duke agreed to provide a variety of public recreation sites along the Catawba River as part of its federal hydroelectric relicensing to operate power plants along the river. The Rock Hill site is needed to comply with the federal license and its recreation management plan. Duke is in lease discussions with the city of Rock Hill about the site.
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In December, Duke met with the York County Zoning Board of Appeals on its application for a 20-acre waterfront park on the west side of India Hook Road. The plan includes fishing, swimming and other recreation areas.
A dozen neighboring property owners protested the plan during the meeting.
When the zoning board met again in January, the park discussion was deferred at Duke’s request to allow more time to meet with neighbors.
On Feb. 6, Duke project manager Jay McMullen sent a letter to county staff stating the company would withdraw its application to develop the property.
Misty Breeden said she lives near the proposed park and she worries about water intake in the area.
“Our public drinking water comes from there,” she said. “It is an environmental issue.”
Breeden envisions the area collecting trash and debris. She also has concerns about potential crime at the site.
“It’s going to be an unmanned, unprotected beach,” she said. “It’s going to be a 24-hour open, unmanned park.”
Sunset Point resident Arthur Pittman has the same concerns.
“This is a two-lane road that dead ends at the gate for the dam,” he said. “The park would be open 24/7 with no committed staff. It is in the immediate area of the Rock Hill water intake point.”
Several homes in his community, Pittman said, would front the park site.
“We already have a continuing problem with illegal parking and use of our private area on the water,” he said. “People speed and at times race on that stretch of India Hook.”
Plus, he said, there is another park nearby.
“Ebenezer Park on the lake is less than five minutes away from us,” Pittman said. “We feel it will increase drive-through in our neighborhood, which we don’t want.”