Racepath community works to improve, asks for public help - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Racepath community works to improve, asks for public help

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County leaders are working to revitalize rundown neighborhoods. One of those is the Racepath community off Robert Grissom Parkway.

There definitely has been some progress over the past two years, but there's still a lot of work to be done in the Racepath community, and it's going to take time too, because it all hinges on grant money.

To encourage redevelopment in Racepath, the county eased some of the zoning regulations, making the area a priority investment zone. This allowed the county to submit for grants to help with the revitalization.

Federal grants will allow the county to help without using millions of tax payer dollars. But using grants also means the work doesn't get done all at once. So far, what's actually been accomplished since 2013 includes a few homes being renovated for the disabled, elderly, or low-income families. But residents are still waiting on some of the big promises to come true.

"But you know what, it will make it so much better," says Reverend William Gause, a community advocate. "And then a lot more will understand that it wasn't just talk. Because a lot of things have been promised down through the years. And a lot of people here feel like, ‘Nope, they ain't gonna do nothin'. They just talkin'.'"

And it's those promises of a newly paved road, sidewalks, and street lights many residents are crossing their fingers for. And it's in hopes that the improvements will rid the neighborhood of a lot of crime and drug activity. County leaders say they are in the planning stages right now for resurfacing the main road. Plans are to hopefully be finalized by the end of June. Then crews will resurface, add lighting, sidewalks, and gutters as promised. All this grant money will go on the 2016 budget.

The county also has a program set up right now that if anyone wants to sell their property, they have acquisition money set aside to buy that land from you. They will then give it to Habitat for Humanity so they can build a new home for someone.

A pillar of the community is the Horry County Racepath Community Center. Kids from all over the county come to the center every day after school and for summer programs. But this building is no longer cutting it, because they're running out of space.

On a day-to-day basis, the community center crew takes care of at least 25 kids in this tiny building, ranging from 4 to 12 years old.

During the summer, there are 50 to 55 kids in the weekly camps they host. But community leaders are having to turn kids away simply because there isn't enough space to adequately care for any more kids.

Now, the center's leader, Reverend Gause, is spearheading a massive campaign to try and get a bigger facility, and he's asking for the public to help with donations. The goal is to keep the center in the Racepath community, because Rev. Gause says this is their way of fighting crime.

“We want to have a community building with what the county is going to do with the community with sidewalks and street lights and all this here. It will brighten the community up. Also it will run the drugs out of this community,” says Gause.

So Gause is looking to the community for help in purchasing the property the community center would be built on. It is going to cost $30,000 to acquire the property. And the group has until October 30 to raise all this money. There will be a fundraiser barbeque this June. But plans have not been finalized for that event just yet.

Once the property is purchased, then the county will be responsible for building the new two-story center with grant money. Leaders with the county say it should take two years to raise the half million dollars needed to build it.

If you would like to help donate to the cause, checks can be made out to Phoenix Renaissance, with Racepath Community Center in the memo line. Mail it to Phoenix Renaissance Inc., 286 Sunset Drive, Myrtle Beach, SC, 29577

Or you can email Rev. Gause for more information at w_gause@yahoo.com, or call at 843-283-3864.

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