Fort Mill Times

Catawba Park planning to start with Tega Cay public

Tega Cay’s next step in planning for Catawba Park is to take the task to residents.

After some discussion Wednesday on how best to design the park, City Council asked City Manager Charlie Funderburk to come up with a 10- to 15-question survey that will be linked to the city’s website. Funderburk is expected to have draft questions ready for Monday night’s Council meeting.

Catawba Park is a plan dating back at least to 2007, when the city brought in the top 10 of about 50 engineer proposals for what could go on land in the New Gray Rock Road area, just where Lake Wylie becomes the river again. Plans in 2007 were for four activity fields, two baseball fields, walking trails, tennis courts and more not only on 10 acres owned by the city, but possibly 100 acres with a pending annexation.

Then came the recession. Current planning is for those same 10 acres given to the city through a development agreement and 32 more owned by Duke Energy. Another 20 acres adjacent to the land is owned by developer Clear Springs.

Mayor George Sheppard said Wednesday that Council may not be the best, and certainly isn’t the only, group fit to decide what amenities are needed at Catawba Park. He wants input from families that would use it frequently, like those with young children.

“We’re not going outside to the community to ask what they want,” he said.

Engineers could come in and set up community groups and meetings, then develop proposals for Council based on those recommendations. The city has $750,000 earmarked for Catawba Park, about a third of that coming from the developer donating the 10 acres. Some Council members said they weren’t comfortable hiring an engineer until they better knew what the community wanted.

“I don’t need an engineer to tell me what I can do with 10 acres,” said Councilman Chris Landvik-Larson. “I do need to know what people want.”

Council agreed that, in whatever order it happens, public feedback is a must.

“We ought to have a town hall meeting, and let’s get feedback from the citizens,” said Councilman Stephen Perkins.

Thus the survey, which Council members hope will provide some direction. A public meeting would be held afterward. Then, perhaps, the engineer might be hired.

“At some point we’ve got to bring in an engineer or the park is going to sit like it is,” Funderburk said.

The city also will explore partnerships with the county and landowners in the area to create a more regional park, if possible.