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Recreation: Litchfield park will open in fall of 2012

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Construction at Stables Park will begin in October under a schedule presented this week to Georgetown County Council.

Opening of the new regional park at two former riding stables in Litchfield is planned for September 2012. A new recreation center at Parkersville and new facilities at Retreat Park will open in December 2012.

Construction will start this December at Parkersville and in February at Retreat Park, between Waccamaw Middle and Intermediate schools.

Groundbreaking ceremonies at Stables Park and the recreation center took place more than six months ago, but this is the first word on when construction might start in more than a year. Recreation officials predicted in early 2009 that tennis courts in Litchfield would be open by the end of that year.

“It’s been a long time coming and we’re getting very, very close to seeing some construction,” said Steve Goggans, principal of SGA Architecture in Pawleys Island, the lead firm of four hired to work cooperatively to create plans for the park.

He presented the schedule along with an update on the firms’ work, and got approval from council to move forward with the preparation of bid documents for work at eight park sites throughout the county.

Some of the best news Goggans had to offer council was that the projected cost of the work has dropped by over $3 million since he last addressed council in 2010. He said then the work would cost about $38 million.

The new estimate is $34.7 million.

“We’re very close to the funding level and that number includes a 5 percent contingency,” Goggans said. “If we took the contingency away, we’re right where we need to be.”

Bid alternates will be created to ensure work doesn’t go over budget.

“We’re treating the budget as absolute,” he said.

Stables Park is the second park in line for construction, following Eight Oaks Park outside Georgetown. Early site work starts there this month with a park opening date scheduled for May or June next year.

There’s a rush to open Eight Oaks, as the park will be the site of two Dixie Softball World Series tournaments next summer.

Construction also starts this year on parks in Choppee and Andrews. Work starts next year at Olive Park and a park in Pleasant Hill.

Construction at each site is being done in phases, and only a portion of projects planned at each site will be complete in this initial phase.

At Stables Park, 10 tennis courts, a club house, four multi-purpose fields and “quite a bit of drainage work” are included in the first phase, Goggans said. The park will eventually have 20 tennis courts. An additional multipurpose field, dog park and playground are also on the list of future additions.

Entrance to the park will be through the Summergate development south of HealthPoiunt, Goggans said, with other access points eventually being added from Petigru Drive and Ford and Parkersville roads.

Initial work at Retreat Park includes two baseball fields with concession areas and scoring towers.

The recreation center at Parkersville will be 26,500 square feet and include a full basketball court, a half court, climbing wall, aerobics and weight lifting areas, a senior center and serving kitchen.

The county closed its Pawleys Island senior center in Parkersville nearly three years ago due to low attendance. Area seniors who want to participate in programs and activities the county offers now have to take a bus to the center in Georgetown.

There were about a dozen seniors who used the Parkersville facility. The closing of an adult day care at St. Elizabeth Place in January 2010 sent eight more seniors to the center in Georgetown.

The recreation projects are part of Georgetown County’s long-range capital improvement plan, which County Council approved in 2007.

The county purchased property for Stables Park in early 2009 and planned to hire a design firm to create the plans for parks countywide later that year, but a dispute during the bidding process caused a lengthy delay. It was more than six months after initial bids for the work went before County Council that a contract was signed to have four firms work cooperatively on the park plans.

Though the process has moved slowly to this point, county residents will start seeing things move much more quickly now, according to Goggans.

Council Member Bob Anderson asked that Goggans give regular updates on the work, including costs and scheduling issues.

“In the next 12 months you will see plenty of me,” Goggans told council.

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