They’ve made their case to the county, subcommittees, public officials and a tax board. But winning over the most important stakeholders – the public – remains for backers of a Lake Wylie park.
A town hall forum is 7-8:30 p.m. Aug. 24 at Oakridge Middle School. Future forums are planned for Sept. 28 and Oct. 26. The goal of each is to provide information on work done and steps that remain if residents choose to fund a multi-sport complex near Crowders Creek.
“There may have been some bumps along the way,” said park committee member Ron Domurat. “But we’re certainly excited about where we are so far.”
The park committee is putting information in local schools and businesses. They are taking to social media and public events. They have pamphlets and online materials detailing plans.
“We have a job to do to get the correct message out to the people who are going to vote,” said committee member Kim Trainer.
The plan is to create a special tax district for the Lake Wylie area – from Buster Boyd Bridge and the Gaston County line and south past Five Points, with more than 16,000 voters – to pay for construction and operations costs. The group estimates it will cost $16 a year per $100,000 in home value, $24 a year for commercial.
Most of the $9 million construction would come from the special use tax, minus $2.45 million from county hospitality tax funding. Another $400,000 in operations money would come from the local tax, too.
The 50 acres at 5668 Charlotte Highway includes three baseball/softball fields and three multipurpose fields mainly for soccer, lacrosse and football.
The plan also now includes tennis and basketball courts, an 18-hole disc golf course, playground, picnic shelter and walking trails. Another 18 acres nearby could have a dog park and water access as part of a future phase.
If voters approve the tax, a five-member board will be named by York County Council to oversee funds. All board members must be residents within the tax area. It works the same as the fire tax district voters approved in 2009 for Bethel Volunteer Fire Department.
A public park in Lake Wylie has been in discussion for decades, dating back at least three council representatives. Tom Smith, who preceded current Councilman Bruce Henderson, worked to get the 50 acres donated to the county and now is working with the park committee. Setting up a special tax district, he said, is key to the long-term health of the park.
“Not only does it build it, it makes it viable,” Smith said.
The upcoming public forums are the main way committee members hope to make their case about the positive social and economic impacts it will bring to the area.
“The thing is to give (voters) the information,” Trainer said. “We’ve got to get that out there.”
The vote on the special tax district is Nov. 8. The committee took a chance submitting a petition and other documents to get the issue on a general election ballot in a presidential year, where high turnout is expected. Trainer said it’s a “legitimate concern” having so many people show up to the polls and find out about the tax question there for the first time.
So they are pushing hard to gather as many people, and answer as many questions, as possible at the upcoming forums. Then, it’s up to residents to decide whether to invest in the project.
“This is the people’s park,” Trainer said.
John Marks: 803-831-8166