Council again in private talks about ‘annexation,’ Raceway
By Bobby Bryant Editor
Darlington City Council returned again to the subject of “annexation” and “Darlington Raceway” during an executive session Feb. 2, but again took no public action on the issue, whatever it might be. That was one of the subjects council discussed during an hour-and-15-minute executive session that also covered the old Carnegie Library (Darlington County plans to lease it from the city and renovate it). No votes were taken afterward. At earlier meetings, council has privately discussed issues involving annexation and the Raceway, but since executive sessions are privileged, no one on council can talk about them publicly, and no public votes on the issue or proposal have ever been taken. On Nov. 10, council privately discussed an item listed on the agenda as “Contract Annexation Agreement Darlington Raceway.” On Dec. 1, another executive session included the item “Annexation Darlington Raceway, Other Annexation Options.” In last week’s council meeting, the item was listed as “Darlington Raceway Annexation Agreement.” Raceway President Kerry Tharp has declined to comment. However, in his first State of the City address Dec. 3, Darlington Mayor Curtis Boyd indicated that at least some of the closed-door talks might involve the city’s purchase last year of a big tract of land off Harry Byrd Highway. The land will be the basis for a recreation complex. The land is outside the city limits near the Raceway. City officials have been seeking ways to connect the land to the city limits by annexing small parcels of property; this could involve land owned by the Raceway. During his State of the City address, Boyd said: “We’re going to work with the racetrack now to get that annexed in.” In other business at City Council’s regular session last week, Lisa Chalian-Rock of the Darlington Downtown Revitalization Association updated council on DDRA upcoming activities. They include a collaboration with Joe’s Grill in Darlington for its annual Chili Championship and Car Show on March 6 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; a presentation of the DDRA’s 2020 Member of the Year Award during the Darlington Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet March 18; and the annual DDRA Golf Tournament April 14 at Darlington Country Club. In a discussion about repaving the parking lot for the Darlington Fire Department’s main station at the corner of Wells and Orange streets, City Manager Howard Garland told council, “I don’t think, long-term, we’re going to be able to save that building.” Officials have long worried about structural problems developing at the fire department because of the unstable ground around the building. Sinkholes have been a major problem, and DOT crews now are working to fix the Orange and Wells street area. The fire department has temporarily been relocated while the road work is done. Garland said the city is looking for an “exit strategy” to permanently relocate the fire department in the next few years.