City seeks possible land purchase from school district

Darlington County Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Lee Andrews speaks to the DCSD Board. Photo by Melissa Rollins

By Melissa Rollins, Editor,

The City of Darlington is pushing forward in their dream to create a recreational complex. City staff and council have been unsuccessful in past attempts to purchase property but Darlington County Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Lee Andrews hopes that the relationship between the city and the Darlington County School District will change that.

During the board of education meeting, Monday, April 10, Andrews spoke to the board members about the city’s interest in property currently owned by the district.
Showing them several aerial maps of the property, Andrews explained what the city was trying to accomplish.

“These are the footprints that we are looking at to get from the school district for the City of Darlington for the purpose of recreational facilities to be used by the community in Darlington,” Andrews said. “The first one…is the creek bed behind St. John’s Elementary School in Darlington. What we are asking for there is 100 feet on either side of the creek to be used for walking trails, to boardwalk, to connect that area to Wells Street from Williamson Park, which is in the city of Darlington. What we are wanting to do is create a trail system right there from Williamson Park to Wells Street in hopes that, in the future, what we are going to do is connect Williamson Park throughout the city to get to 151 right there by the racetrack.”

Andrews said that the recreation department would try to keep the area like it currently is, as much as possible.

“We want to keep it natural, we want to make it as easy to use for educational purposes (as we can); it is a perfect fit for behind St. John’s Elementary,” Andrews said. “We have actually had the Governor’s School (for Science and Mathematics) at Williamson Park the better part of two weeks studying stuff in the park.”

Andrews said that some of the land has facilities currently on it, while others do not.

“(We also want) the old Virgil Wells Stadium, Mayo football field, the existing B.A. Gary baseball field, also the A.W. ‘Man’ Stanley Gym,” Andrews said. “We want to build baseball facilities there, at least three fields, possibly four. We are already in the process of purchasing land right behind the gymnasium there. The school district also owns some land right behind the gymnasium. We want to raise the stadium and clear out the area and build parking areas. We are in a lease agreement for the stadium; we own the gym but we do not own any other land out there, including the one we are currently playing baseball on.”

Board member Dr. Thelma Dawson expressed concern that she was not in the loop with this project, considering that it would be built in her area of representation. Andrews apologized, saying that he had been given the impression that she was approached and was on board. He also promised to meet with her personally to share all the information he had.

Andrews told board members that he was there simply to give them information. A public meeting will be held on April 25 to get the public’s opinion about the proposal. He said that if the public was in agreement with it, he would be back before the board with a request.

Several board members said that they would need more specific information about the land the city was interested in. Board chair Jamie Morphis said that the district was looking at building projects of their own and would need to make sure that the land in question would not be in conflict with any of those.

In other business, 21 DCSD students were recognized as Junior Scholars. The South Carolina Junior Scholars Program was developed by the South Carolina Department of Education to identify eighth grade students with exceptional academic talent and intellectual ability. The students recognized were:

Darlington Middle School
• Tyler Berry
• Dana Joe

Hartsville Middle School
• Shelby Allen
• Raeva Bali
• Caden Booth
• Stephen Brunson
• Nicholas Evans
• Clarence Ewing
• Lily Ferguson
• Lili Fonteneau
• Emalee Johnson
• Madilyn Johnson
• Bertha Jones
• Sophie Lefew
• Kaki Newsome
• Matthew Quinn
• Audrey Schroeder
• Jakob Thompson
• Abigail Trader

Spaulding Middle School
• Effie Copeland
• Tyra Gainey

Eleven students from Spaulding Middle School were also recognized for their first place win at the South Carolina Junior Beta Club State Convention. Their win was in the Technology (Video) Division II competition. Those students were:
• Maurice Ceasar
• Jacob Childers
• Brittany Gandy
• Keating Jackson
• Jonathan Jordan
• Ahmad Mack
• Lance Mack, Jr.
• Caleb Poole
• John Walker
• Marleigh Wilkes
• Darius Wingate

The public meeting regarding the proposed recreational complex will be held April 25 at 6 p.m. at Harmon Baldwin Recreation Center, 300 Sanders St. in Darlington.

Author: Duane Childers

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