McCormick County Council, July 19:
– Amanda Smith
Mims Community Center wins nearly $5 million in renovations
McCormick County Council unanimously approved an agreement to move forward with renovations at the W.S. Mims Community Center in the amount of $4,992,778. The agreement authorizes the county administrator to work with the Greenville architectural firm DP3 Architects.
Located at 516 Mims Drive in McCormick, the Mims Community Center project was listed as costing around $2.5 million dollars two years ago. Due to inflation and other factors, however, the cost of the project has doubled since.
According to Administrator Stephens, funding is coming from various sources, none of which are additional costs for taxpayers. Stephens provided a breakdown, mentioning funds from the Capital Penny Sales Tax (CPST), local government funds, tribunal grants, and general obligation bonds. He emphasized that the project was essential to address community needs and timeliness was essential to avoid higher costs in the future.
artist rendition of new building
According to the DP3 Architects website, the renovation of the community center will “optimize its current recreation department administrative functions, expand its program offerings through enhanced facilities, and possibly accommodate a future daycare center.”
Troy water tank approved for improvements up to $500k
Burk addresses Council
An urgent matter concerning the Troy water tank in McCormick County was presented to McCormick County Council by Patrick Burk on behalf of the engineering firm Thomas & Hutton during the monthly meeting Tuesday night. The Troy tank is only operating at 30% capacity and the firm recommended immediate installation of a booster station to assist with the water storage shortage.
Burk stressed the importance of having water in the Troy tank, as lack of water storage is a critical issue in terms of fire protection and safety.
“An empty tank doesn’t put out fires,” Burk said.
Burk and others at Thomas & Hutton compiled a narrative for a preapplication to the State Economic and Infrastructure Development Group (SEID) which must be sent in by July 21. Burk encouraged council to go ahead and submit the preapplication.
“Up to $500,000 can be awarded to you guys if you express a critical need and you do have one in the Troy tank,” Burk said.
The grant requires a 50/50 match, however, meaning council would need to commit $500,000 of its own funds.
Burk explained that a booster station would positively impact the water system by pumping more water into the tank and raising water pressure as well as cycling more of the tank’s water. This cycling would decrease the total trihalomethanes for which council is under a consent order from the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).
County Administrator Columbus Stephens commented that capital funding has been set aside for special projects such as this. “We do have the availability to match the individual grant that he’s sharing with us,” Stephens said.
Councilwoman Jacqueline Brown highlighted that the Troy tank has been an ongoing problem and expressed hope that Thomas & Hutton’s proposal would resolve the issue. Burk assured her that the booster station would address the tank’s shortcomings. The full application would be due in September.
When up for a vote, council unanimously approved Burk’s recommendation to submit Thomas & Hutton’s preapplication for SEID grant funds.
Fire plan controversy
Heated discussions over a proposed fire tax plan took place during the meeting. Tamala White, a McCormick County resident, addressed the council, expressing her concerns about equity and providing specific examples of potential flaws in the plan.
White began by identifying the meaning of equity as “fair and impartial,” and cited that this was the main idea given behind the plan which she saw as mainly proposed by Councilman Chuck Cook.
One of White’s examples of a potential flaw in the plan involved the installation of a new water line and fire hydrants on Dogwood Lane, a short two-tenths of a mile road with only nine homes. She pointed out that the Parksville Fire Station was nearby, raising questions about the necessity and cost-effectiveness of the project. She compared this to the situation on Liberty Hill Road, where residents must travel three miles to reach the nearest fire hydrant and six to nine miles to reach the nearest fire department.
Councilman Cook responded by clarifying that the focus of the plan was on equitable funding rather than the placement of fire hydrants. “I would point out that when we talk about equity, that is based on the comparison between what taxpayers in the unincorporated areas of the county are paying,” he said. “On a dollar-for-dollar basis, based on their assessments, those in the incorporated areas of the county and in SLV (Savannah Lakes Village) are paying five times as much for the same value of property as people are paying in the unincorporated areas of the county.”
White responded that true equity had to encompass both funding and infrastructure. “If you can’t provide us the same service that you’re trying to charge us for, how can that be fair?” she said. “You can’t delineate equity in money and infrastructure. Equity is equity. Fair and impartial. And until you can get it to that point, I don’t believe you can do this.”
Parksville Chief Knopp
Parksville Fire Chief Richie Knopp also expressed his dissatisfaction with the proposed plan. He emphasized that fire departments have community support and urged council to consider residents’ grievances. He suggested appointing a neutral mediator between the community and council to get the community’s feedback on what they want from the fire plan.