050417 Parks: Revised plan for school site will improve traffic
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Parks: Revised plan for school site will improve traffic

By Charles Swenson

A request to use a street alongside Waccamaw Elementary School for access to a new housing development led the Georgetown County School District to review plans for a county park on the campus. And while the park is on the list of projects to be funded by the county in the next phase of its capital improvement plan, the fate of the road is less certain.

“Our position is that we weren’t going to schedule it and put it on the Planning Commission agenda unless we have something from the school district acknowledging they were going to let them use it,” County Administrator Sel Hemingway said.

School Superintendent Randy Dozier said he is waiting to hear whether the county is willing to maintain the road. “I’m not comfortable until I get something back from them,” he said.

The development, known as Hammock Cove, consists of 86 lots on 37 acres behind the school. The only access to the property right now is from Petigru Drive. The project’s engineers asked the district in March to consider making it a public street. The school board agreed to wait until it heard from Georgetown County. In the meantime, Dozier asked SGA Architects, the firm that created a plan for park facilities at Waccamaw Elementary in 2010, for an update. “We really need more parking and stacking,” he said.

Traffic backs up on Waverly Road in front of the school when parents drop off and pick up students. Dupre Drive, which runs from Waverly Road to the back of the school, is used by parents, staff and people using the ballfield behind the school. That’s the road Hammock Cove’s developer wants to use for access.

Under the park plan, Dupre will be extended around the perimeter of the school and park complex and tie in with Cochran Drive to return to Waverly Road. The driveway in front of the school will be extended to include a shared parking lot with a three-field baseball/softball complex. That would take vehicles off Waverly Road in the morning and afternoon peaks of school traffic. “I feel like it needed to be on paper,” Dozier said.

The plan, revised this week, doesn’t include any link with the residential development.

Hemingway said that under current policy the county would accept Dupre Drive into its system if it meets the county’s construction standard. The county Planning Commission also has to review the Hammock Cove plan for consistency with the development regulations. That was scheduled for last month, but withdrawn at the last minute because of the lack of agreement on the road. The project is estimated to generate about 900 new vehicle trips a day.

If there is a connection between the development and the school, and eventually the park, Hemingway doesn’t envision any change to the park plan.

The three ballfields were originally proposed for Retreat Park, but were cut when a portion of the park was used for Waccamaw Intermediate School.

“We have annual issues with not enough ballfields,” Hemingway said. “That project needs to be considered sooner rather than later.”

It’s estimated to cost $3.4 million. That includes a multipurpose field in place of the current ballfield at the school. It also includes the road improvements and the shared parking. It doesn’t include improvements to parking lots that would be used by the school alone.

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