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Recreation: Planning new parks: Plans raise hopes and concerns

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

A public meeting on plans for new recreation facilities on Waccamaw Neck drew mixed reactions from about 60 people who turned out to get a look them Wednesday night.

Plans include a new park in Litchfield with a tournament tennis complex and soccer fields, a community center in Parkersville and new ball fields at Retreat Park near Waccamaw Middle and Intermediate schools and at Waccamaw Elementary School.

While most folks like the idea of the facilities, many said they were concerned over the cost.

“I’m impressed by the plan and the whole idea of the thing, but I see it as a luxury during the difficult economic times we’re facing now,” said Glenn Wilson Sr. of Hagley. The facilities are needed, he said, but what the county has planned might be “on too grand a scale.”

Wilson had some questions about the plans he wanted answered, including whether the new facilities would bring jobs after construction and produce income.

One man, who didn’t want his name used, was also concerned about costs. There are better uses for county funds than ball parks, he said. He and his neighbors on Martin Luther King Road have tried to get sidewalks and bike paths for years, he said. They’ve talked to county officials and state legislators with little result.

“People walk those roads at night,” he said. Sidewalks would save lives and be a better use for funds.

Debbie and Ed Morgan of Ricefields greeted the plans with enthusiasm. They can understand concerns about the cost, they said, but oppose scaling them down.

“I know times are tight, but if we scale them back, I think they will be less successful than if we do it right,” Ed said.

The couple is looking forward to seeing the projects complete, particularly a dog park and a swimming pool.

Multi-purpose fields were the biggest concern for Harold Ness of Heritage Plantation.

“They’re lacrosse fields to me,” he said. He introduced lacrosse to the state when he retired here from Maryland. Twelve years later, he said, more than 2,500 kids playing in the state.

Ness said there’s a demand for facilities to host lacrosse tournaments and he wanted to make sure the multi-purpose fields would be suitable. “If these facilities were here today, I could have a coaches clinic with 300 people on Nov. 6,” he said.

Gladys Klein of River Club said she’d like to see the facilities developed, but has some concerns about the location.

“The soccer fields are going to be right in my back yard,” she said. “I’m not happy about that.”

She said the lights are her main concerns. County officials say they will maintain buffers between the park and neighboring homes.

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