Darlington City Council moves ahead on property purchases

By Melissa Rollins, Editor, editor@newsandpress.net

Darlington City Council approved three property purchase ordinances March 6 during their regular monthly meeting.
The purchase included 17 acres on the corner of Old Florence Highway and Avenue D as well as the acquisition of Virgil Wells Stadium and the accompanying ballfield and tennis courts, owned by the Darlington County School District. All of the land purchased will be used to recreation purposes.

A fourth ordinance, relating to digital signage in the city, was tabled until a public hearing can be held in April to get feedback from the community.

Council heard two requests for money during the meeting. Harriet Hobbs with the Greater Darlington Chamber of Commerce asked the city for $15,000 for the annual Freedom Fest at Darlington Raceway. Council has contributed the same amount for the last four years and approved the request for this year’s event. Anna Dewitt with the Darlington Rescue Squad requested $6,000 to go toward a Christmas Festival in Darlington. Dewitt said that the squad has held the annual Christmas Parade in Darlington for more than a decade. She said that the parade committee wants to start a festival to give people a reason to stick around for the Christmas tree lighting which takes place several hours after the parade ends. Councilman John Milling suggested that council have their first budget meeting to determine how much money was in the Hospitality Tax fund before they approve Dewitt’s request.

Lee Andrews, Director of Tourism and Recreation for Darlington County gave a report to council on what the current numbers were for baseball and softball signups.

“About two weeks ago, we had a press conference announcing that we were going from Dixie and Little League to one league in Darlington and that was Little League,” Andrews said. “A week prior to the announcement, there was a lot of stuff on social media about how that was a fail and that we wouldn’t get anybody signed up. I just wanted to report the numbers for signups. In the past there have been about 217 kids in Dixie and probably 117, give or take a few, in Little League. At the end of business today (March 6), we had 283 kids signed up just for baseball. We had 135 girls signed up for softball. So, if you do the math, we are over 400. Everybody was worried about people leaving and going to different places and playing. They’re here.”

Andrews said that this year was going to be different because of the combined league but that it was going to be better.
“It is going to be fun this year because it is going to be crowded,” Andrews said. “They are not going to have to travel this year if they don’t want to because we are going to have enough teams. When I did the numbers today, we are probably going to have enough teams for five or six teams in the 3 to 4-year-old group, five or six teams in the 5 to 6-year-old group, five or six teams in the 7 to 8-year-old group. It is unreal how people have come out. (We are) one league right now and we are headed in the right direction. I just wanted to bring you and update because there were people out in the community who said it wasn’t going to work, that it wasn’t going to happen. Well, so far, so good.”

Lisa Chalian-Rock, Director of the DDRA, Planning & Economic Development, talked with council members about the possibility of expanding two of the city’s historic districts.

“The City of Darlington Historic Landmark Commission would like to expand our residential Historic Districts,” Rock said. “We have three residential Historic Districts and two commercial Historic Districts. This would extend the protection of the historic district and keep more of the character in our beautiful homes and neighborhoods. They (the commission) feel this will enhance the city by capitalizing on what Darlington has going for it: its place as a charming historic town.”
Rock said that the expansion was brought up by a homeowners in the proposed expansion areas.

“This initiative was started by a homeowner’s request at the corner of Oak and North Streets; the large brick building, I believe,” Rock said. “The research the commission has done is based on the state survey of the properties. We’ve identified several areas that would like to extend the districts and commission members have been volunteering knocking on doors and physically talking to these neighbors to see if they want to participate. At this time, the commission is proposing to extend the Cashua/Spring District by adding properties along North and Oak Streets. This would be on North Street along Evangeline all the way to Spring. On Oak Street it would be until you get to the nursing home and then Ms. Carrigan’s house. This would add an additional 15 properties to that district.”

Rock was seeking the go-ahead from council to send certified letters to property owners detailing the restrictions that will go in to place once the Historic District is expanded.

An ordinance will need to be written and receive first and second reading from council before the expansion goes in to place.

Councilman Bryant Gardner asked Rock to provide a list of addresses that would be affected by the expansion. Other councilmembers seconded Gardner’s request, saying that they were unsure from the map provided by Rock what properties would actually be added to the district. Mayor Gloria Hines said that council would look more at the issue before giving Rock the go-ahead

Author: Duane Childers

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