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Plans for new Horry County recreation centers hit another hurdle

Updated: Aug. 12, 2020 at 11:55 AM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The future of two new recreation centers in Horry County are at risk due to financial strains associated with COVID-19, according to a county document.

Proposed recreation centers for Loris and Aynor were discussed at a Parks and Open Space Board meeting Tuesday.

“While there has been some discussion regarding potential sites, there is currently no funding available to consider site acquisition, feasibility studies, or facility design,” a briefing memorandum from the meeting states.

Briefing Memorandum from August 11th Horry County Parks and Open Space Board meeting
Briefing Memorandum from August 11th Horry County Parks and Open Space Board meeting(Source: Horry County Government)
Briefing Memorandum from August 11th Horry County Parks and Open Space Board meeting
Briefing Memorandum from August 11th Horry County Parks and Open Space Board meeting(Source: Horry County Government)

The new recreation centers are a portion of the county’s Imagine 2040 plan, which was approved by Horry County Council in December 2019.

“Recreation centers are in high demand in Aynor and in Loris, and have been for many decades,” a portion of the Imagine 2040 plan reads.

The plan goes on to read, “while the County has dedicated millage to support recreational needs in the County, the funds are struggling to support the operations and maintenance of existing facilities, let alone meet the development of new facilities.”

The economic ripple effects from COVID-19 are only putting a greater strain on the county’s efforts to create new recreation facilities.

The Loris and Aynor Recreation Centers are included in the fiscal year 2023 and fiscal year 2027 plans, but currently all new larger capital projects are on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the briefing memorandum from Tuesday’s meeting.

This is just the latest delay in a decades-long effort to establish a recreation facility in Loris. The project was proposed in the county’s 1999 Recreation Needs Assessment, county documents show.

One idea to create a source of funding is to include the centers in the county’s impact fees, a member of the board said. Right now, the terms of those developer fees are under negotiation at the state level.

While the source of funding for the projects remains unclear, more could be learned about the proposal next month.

On Sept. 8, the Parks and Open Space Board will review a working draft proposal for projects over the next 20 years. It will outline what will or will not come to fruition over the next two decades.

Through early October, the public and the board will review and finalize the plan.

Members of the board believe Horry County Council will hold the first of three readings on the proposal in November.

By March 2021, the Parks and Open Space Board anticipates a baseline plan to be in place.

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