After last capital project, it’s a whole new ballgame – Coastal Observer


After last capital project, it’s a whole new ballgame

The 7- and 8-year-old players on the Braves, practicing this week, weren’t even born when planning for the park began.

Twenty years ago Georgetown County residents and officials had a vision of what the county could be.

The “Visions for the Future” program is now in the past after a ribbon was cut to officially open Waverly Park this week. It is the last of the Visions projects.

“It’s been a fun ride. A huge, huge undertaking,” said Beth Goodale, director of the county’s Parks and Recreation Department. “But what an amazing program it is and it keeps on going for years to come.”

The $6 million Waverly Park project replaced two outdated fields behind Waccamaw Elementary School with four new fields and added restroom and concession facilities. 

“We really needed some additional small fields on the Waccamaw Neck,” Goodale said.

Austin Williams played on the fields in Wachesaw Park when he was a kid. He never thought his son would be playing T-ball on those same fields. 

“We needed [Waverly Park] 10 years ago. It’s great,” said Williams, who now coaches his son’s 8U coach-pitch team. “It makes it so much easier to have fields right here in the middle of the community as opposed to having to drive 20 minutes.”

Jason Hunnicut has seen a yearly increase in the number of kids participating in baseball leagues, which made finding places to play and practice a “juggling act” in the past.

“We feel like that was key to growing the program and providing quality services. Resources like this are essential,” said Hunnicut, who coaches a 12U baseball team. “We’ve outgrown the other two fields that we had.”

Goodale was involved in the Visions program since the beginning when she was an assistant to Tommy Edwards, the county administrator at the time.

Edwards led the creation of what was called “a long-term citizen-driven project to provide the county with a strategic plan for growth and development.”

More than 400 residents worked thousands of hours to come up with $313.5 million in projects as part of a capital improvement plan, which was approved by County Council in 2008.

The CIP projects were funded with bonds. Since the county can only carry a certain amount of debt without a referendum, it took 16 years to complete the plan.

Other projects included the county Judicial Center, libraries, recreation centers, the Campbell Marine Complex and Stables Park. 

“Recreation ended up having a huge part of the investment,” Goodale said.

Money was also used to renovate the historic county courthouse. In all, nearly $90 million was spent on new facilities.

“That was quite unheard of in a county our size,” Goodale said.

Once the plan was approved, the first order of business was finding land to buy.

That became a little easier when the real estate market crashed in the Great Recession. 

“Had that not happened we would not have been able to afford the kind of property we have or the amount of property,” Goodale said. “Especially on the Waccamaw Neck.”

The county bought seven parcels in Litchfield from three property owners and turned them into Stables Park.

There was a need for more ballfields on the Waccamaw Neck, and county officials knew that need was only going to grow.

Parks and Recreation already had an agreement with the school district to use the “ballfields” behind Waccamaw Elementary.

“They were literally just ballfields put on the grass. No irrigation. No amenities. No restrooms. No nothing,” Goodale said. “But before the CIP those were luxurious facilities for us.”

When the school was built there was no thought given to stormwater.

“It didn’t really matter in the early, early, early days because there wasn’t anything but forest there,” Goodale said.

When planning Waverly Park, the county came up with an “ecologically” sensitive plan to improve the drainage at the site, the school and the surrounding area. 

Waverly Park includes larger than normal retention ponds the supply the irrigation system. 

Parts of the parking lot are unpaved and wetlands  at the back of the property were undisturbed so they can take the overflow if the retention ponds fill up. 

“It was very, very, very well thought out,” Goodale said. “We always try to be good stewards. That’s our goal with the county.”



Georgetown County Board of Education: First and third Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Beck Education Center. For details, go to Georgetown County Council: Second and fourth Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Council Chambers, 129 Screven St., Georgetown. For details, go to Pawleys Island Town Council: Second Mondays, 5 p.m. Town Hall, 323 Myrtle Ave. For details, go to   , .