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Recreation: County assures neighbors buffers will return to park site

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Work is finally under way at Stables Park in Litchfield and it’s generating quite a bit of attention on the Waccamaw Neck.

“Most of what we’ve heard has been positive. We’ve had a lot of good conversations with folks and people are excited it’s coming,” said Beth Goodale, the county recreation director.

Some of them expected facilities planned at the park, such as a tennis complex, would never materialize.

“I’ve heard quite a bit of that,” she added.

Part of the county’s long range capital improvement plan, the park is one of several under development throughout the county. The property was purchased about three years ago and people have been waiting to see some activity there ever since.

Site work started in the middle of December and logging operations generated some noise.

“That’s over with and hopefully we can move on and people won’t even know we’re back there until we open,” Goodale said.

The removal of trees on the property caused concerns for some residents along Red Maple Drive. They worried as natural buffers between the park and their homes were thinned, but Goodale said they were reassured once she went over the park plans with them.

“We’ve talked to a bunch of neighbors,” Goodale said. “It’s our goal to be good neighbors. We want everybody to be happy with the park and I think they will be.”

Sue Myers, who lives on Red Maple Drive, said she hadn’t talked to Goodale, but several of her neighbors had. The noise was their main concern. Logs were being loaded at 3 and 4 in the morning, but once informed, Goodale took care of the problem promptly.

“We all knew it was coming,” Myers said of the work at the park. “It’s needed desperately for the county and the Waccamaw Neck, so I can’t fault them in any way. I think they are doing a good job for us and the worst is over now.”

Buffers will vary from about 50 feet to more than 100 feet Goodale said. At Red Maple Drive, plans call for a natural buffer of about 15 feet leading to a landscaped area, then a parking area and roadway. That’s the closest any home will be to one of the park’s high activity areas, according to Goodale.

“We designed it so the facilities where the activities take place are farther away from the developed areas,” she said. “The soccer fields push against the opposite side of the property, so they’re not really next to anybody. I think people are going to be happy with what we’re doing. It will certainly create much less traffic than other uses.

“People have mentioned the fact that it was going to be a big development and now it’s green space for the most part. That’s one thing I’m really excited about, because homes are everywhere, but there aren’t many places on Waccamaw Neck where you have 100 acres of green space.”

Centex Homes once sought approval to build houses on a large portion of what is now the park. That project fell through when the housing market collapsed in the recession.

The first phase of construction at Stables Park will include tennis courts and a concession stand at what will eventually become soccer fields. Development of the fields shouldn’t be far behind.

Soccer tournaments have already been booked at the park for 2013 and talks are ongoing to bring in lacrosse tournaments.

Work at Parkersville Park, where a recreation center will be constructed, is also scheduled to start this month. County Council members are expecting an update on recreation projects countywide and their associated budgets when they meet in council chambers at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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