Darlington leaders purchase properties to use for recreation areas

DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) - Darlington city leaders recently announced plans to upgrade and build recreation areas after purchasing three properties.

City leaders said an upgrade to the parks means an upgrade to people's quality of life in Darlington.

"We are absolutely very excited about this," said Lee Andrews, the city's recreation director.

Right now, Darlington only has one playground on Liberty Street. Andrews said the few facilities they have are outdated and overgrown. They also have problems ranging from leaking gym roofs to broken baseball fields.

"They've served their purpose for the last 40 years cause they are 40 years old. They've served their purpose," Andrews said. "Now we just build something new, give these kids and people in Darlington what they deserve."

Improvement plans have been in the works for five years. Darlington Mayor Gloria Hines said residents will finally get what they have always longed for.

"The children need some place to go. Even the adult have expressed they need some place to go," Hines said.

The football field and tennis courts on the property along Magnolia Street will be updated, while the current baseball field will be replaced with a green space and playground.

Next, the property between Hampton and Siskron streets - where a Po Boys once stood - will transform into a playground and dog park.

Still, the crown jewel of the improvement plan is a 17-acre baseball and softball complex. It's planned for the corner of Old Florence Highway and D Avenue and will feature seven fields, parking, concessions and more.

"We have right now 300 baseball players signed up and 150 softball players on one complex on Blue Street." Andrews said "What we can do now is give the parents and the kids something that they can be proud of and something that they can play on for a long time."

Andrews believes the new complex will make access to a variety of sports easier.

"It's going to make life easier for everyone around here, to have everything at a centrally located field as far as football goes and baseball and softball goes for that matter, whereas now, we're moving everything all over town," Andrews said.

According to Andrews, the new recreation project is something the city can call their own.

"This will give us something that we have, that we can update, that we can put money into and not have to worry about somebody taking it back later," he said.

The city will pay for the properties through a hospitality tax bond.

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