City seeking designs for recreation-complex land
By Bobby Bryant, Editor
Darlington City Council is looking for a vision of what its more than 100-acre recreation complex could someday become. In a special meeting March 16, council agreed that the city will start a “request for qualifications” process – sometimes known as a request for quotations – for the $600,000 worth of land the city purchased last year off Harry Byrd Highway near Darlington Raceway. It’s often referred to as “baseball/softball fields” in city documents, and those are part of the plan, but officials see it as an open-ended project that can grow in any direction, depending on what the city can spend, and when. The city will ask architects and designers to submit concepts and plans for where the city might go with the complex, said Recreation Director Lee Andrews. “We’re still going to phase it in,” Andrews told council. “We can add and subtract whatever we need to.” Andrews told the News & Press that the idea is to get various firms “to come in and give us their idea of our park. They’ll bring us their ideas, and we’ll pick the most qualified (group) that has done that before. … There is no cookie-cutter way of building that. Whatever (ideas) they want to bring in, they can bring in.” Estimated costs will also be given to the city. Council also discussed methods of raising funds to finance various parts of the recreation complex; officials hope to secure sponsorships from large or small businesses. Councilman John Milling said the city needs to get started before companies lock in their budgets for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. Milling suggested the city put together a committee to look for potential sponsors. “We may be able to ask people like (Darlington resident) Donna Isgett to help out,” Milling said. “Donna is now CEO over at McLeod, and they’ve got a presence in our community. We might look at medical facilities.” “You would do, like, the naming rights for a field,” Andrews told council. “Or the place on a scoreboard would be sold for a certain amount of money for a certain amount of years. You could put a skate park out there; you’d do naming rights for it. You’d name everything.” In other business March 16, council went into executive session for an hour and a half to discuss City Manager Howard Garland’s contract, but took no votes after returning to public session.