Fort Mill Times

Fort Mill capital needs list taking shape

First, town leaders made a wish list. Now they’re narrowing it down to projects they hope to see within five years.

In April, Town Council saw a $146.5 million wish list of capital and other large projects department heads say will be needed within 20 years. Recently, the town planning commission began work on a list looking five years out, required as part of an impact fee recommendation due to Council next month.

Brown Simpson, parks and recreation director, has several large items on the list because the town will lose facilities it leases within five years. Leased facilities like the Banks Street gym and Complex on the Greenway make up about half of the town’s recreation facilities.

“We have a big demand,” Simpson said. “We need a gymnasium that we can call home.”

Simpson’s list includes a $6.4 million Waterside Park with multipurpose and baseball fields, a new gym and $5.8 million and $2.55 million for future parks.

“That’s a continuing need that we will have,” he said.

The fire department is looking at $2.2 million for a station on Springfield Parkway, almost $850,000 for heavy rescue apparatus and $740,000 for a fire engine there. The area is near the Flint Hill department, but Fort Mill has to have stations within an expanding town limits to maintain its service levels.

“It’s in the city limits and it’s us,” said then Fire Chief Jeff Hooper. “It’s our issue.”

Municipal needs include a new town hall at $8.7 million and law enforcement facility at $2.2 million. If the town stays in the sanitation business, it will need more than $3 million for equipment. The town is looking at privatizing trash pick-up and related sanitation services. Otherwise a new truck and other items will be needed.

“We’re growing at a pace where we can’t complete our routes in an eight-hour span,” said Davy Broom, public works director.

When Broom arrived a little more than a decade ago, both Fort Mill and the state owned roughly 70 roads each in town limits. The state number is about the same. Fort Mill now has more than 200, and a need for paving and related equipment.

“In my mind, now we’re in the road business,” Broom said.

New commercial properties play a part in coming needs, but they largely come from residential growth. Residential growth is a main reason the town is looking at impact fees to pay a portion of the public service costs.

“It’s the residential that got us here,” said Tom Petty, planning commission member.

“There’s something going on almost everywhere,” said Joe Cronin, planning director.

Waterside on the Catawba, Masons Bend and Kingsley North each have 1,000 or more residential units planned. Carolina Orchards has another 630, and several smaller projects are being built. By 2025, Fort Mill should have more than 13,600 residents who don’t live here now.

“Our population will essentially double,” Cronin said. “These projections are based only on projects that we know about.”

Planners anticipate another hotel or two, 100,000 square feet of retail office space and as much industrial. Another 50,000 square feet of restaurant space and a hospital are expected.

The capital needs list was expected to be completed by July. It, along with the impact fee ordinance it accompanies, must be approved by Town Council.

John Marks •  803-547-2353

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In 1980, Fort Mill had 4,162 residents. The 2014 estimate was 13,087, up 21 percent from the 2010 census. Fort Mill was the fourth fastest growing municipality in South Carolina from 2010 to 2014, and the second highest in the Charlotte metro area among those with 10,000 or more residents.

Construction permits are up 140 percent in 2015 compared to the first half of 2014, and up 60 percent from the last pre-recession year of 2007.