Hampton County Releases Results of Study, New Recreation Master Plan

Hampton Happenings

SC, June 8, 2022 – Last night, Hampton County Council gave a presentation at The Palmetto Theater to unveil the long-awaited results of Recreation Study and proposed Master Plan created by Alliance Engineers.

Hampton County and Alliance Consulting Engineers, Inc. had an initial conversation regarding the Recreational Master Plan back in August of 2020, to develop a Scope of Services that would incorporate the ordinance requirements approved on September 19, 2011.

After several conversations, a contract was signed on May 15, 2021 to provide Hampton County an existing inventory of the recreation facilities and a master plan to assist Hampton County for future development of their recreational system as dictated by the Ordinance. A kick-off meeting was held in the Hampton County Administrative Office with Alliance Consulting Engineers, Inc. on August 4, 2021.

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County personnel canvassed the County to review and inventory all Public, Private, and State Recreation Facilities. A public questionnaire was distributed by online website as well as in the County Administrative Offices for community input about what type recreational uses should be included in the proposed facility as well as public forum meetings to get direct public input.

The resulting data was used to create a 5 year and 10-year action plan with goals for each. While some critics derided the plan as unnecessary or "too little, too late," the type and scope of data collected is essential to applying for grant funding to build a new complex. When the initial capital projects sales tax ordinance passed in 2011, the Council at that time did not do any formal study to establish Recreation needs or accurately assess the cost of building a new Recreation Center.

Among the 5 year goals, the plan calls for the County to select and acquire property at a location to serve the whole County with the least travel distance possible from outermost towns. This will be within Hampton-Varnville or Estill at a 2.5 mile radius of Hampton-Varnville within the US Highway 601 and US Highway 278 area. The plan also recommends locating a site with existing infrastructure (water and sewer) in order to avoid additional funds being used on items not recreation orientated. Due to the condition of the existing recreation center, it is recommended that a new indoor gymnasium be constructed at the site of the new complex and that design, permitting, and construction begin within the 5 year time frame.

The 10 year plan focuses on the needs in outlying Towns’ and Communities for additional recreation in their local communities. Assistance to financially challenged residents who cannot afford to travel to the central recreation complex is addressed, along with a recommendation to look toward communities who have no parks or recreational facilities: Crocketville, Miley, Gifford, Cummings, Luray, Early Branch, RiversMill, and Garnett. The report indicates that these communities would have very limited to no funds to operate and maintain the parks, so this would be part of the master plan for the County to assist with maintenance.

The County is hopeful that the data obtained will assist with obtaining much needed funds to help build the complex. The current facility, built at the turn of the last century, is in terrible disrepair with some areas completely closed off from use. Per County Administrator Rose Dobson-Elliott "We have spent money to keep the current Rec Center afloat in order to offer something to children while we figure out how to build a better facility. Everyone agrees something better is needed, this was a key step forward to achieving that."

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