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  • The Clinton Chronicle, Vic MacDonald

Parks & Trails, Series 2

BY: VIC MACDONALD/EDITOR Article Link

Just over $2 million of the $35 million in capital projects to be funded by a proposed new sales tax in Laurens County will go for a trail and for upgrades to parks countywide.

That’s $300,000 for a Laurens County Trail, behind the hospital, and just over $1.7 million for parks. The project includes a splash pad for the Joanna community, east of Clinton, and major renovations for 8 parks in Clinton.

The $35 million in projects and tax sunsets after 8 years, per state law. “Your average cost,” listed on a vote-yes on-line page, is $3.24 per month.

There’s about a million dollars more in the plan for the Town of Gray Court’s park.

“Getting out and walking is one of the best things you can do to keep yourself healthy,” said Bud Marchant, president of the Laurens County Trails Association, about the trail being installed behind Laurens County Hospital.

Laurens County Parks & Recreation has cut some of the trail, and now it is dirt - if the referendum passes it will be paved, and suitable for biking as well as walking.

“We need to get something in the ground,” Marchant said, “and it needs to be first-rate.”

If the vote passes, countywide, on Nov. 3, the 1% retail sales tax does not apply to unprepared food, prescription drugs, and gasoline (other state taxes apply to food, and state and federal taxes apply to gasoline). There are 16 projects on the to-be-constructed list, and all will be built at the same time because the money is being borrowed (by bond) with the sales tax revenue as a guarantee for repayment. The new sales tax is expected to raise the $34,898,138 over 8 years to fund 16 projects. The tax sunsets after 8 years - it can be re-activated with another set of projects with another affirmative public vote.

The Capital Initiative - Yes! to Invest Sales Tax will be on the general election ballot along with President and Congress (with one Laurens County Council, single-member district race and school board races).

If the projects are accepted by voters, the Laurens County Trail will be  included and it will be 1.8 miles, 10 ft wide, of paved trail in the Professional Park, between Laurens and Clinton.

The $300,000 from the sales tax will be added to $80,000 from Prisma Health to construct and pave this trail -- the eventual plan is to link it to the Swamp Rabbit Trail in eastern Laurens County. A $5,000 grant also has been received from the Duke Energy Foundation. 

Most of the trail is on Laurens County property.

A tract behind the Laurens County Cancer Association building ties it to the rest of the trail on Laurens County property.  Roads near and around the trail area will be used for the trail -- these are considered low-traffic roads.  Parking and rest rooms will be added to the trail site. Crews from parks, recreation and tourism at the county level have cut most of the trail through hilly, wooded terrain in the Professional Park.

This is been a long-time envisioned project of the Laurens County Trails Association, and is seen as a potential link to the very popular Swamp Rabbit Trail.

In addition to the $300,000 for the trail, The Capital Initiative - Vote YES To Invest sales tax will provide as its Number 1 project, $1,727,500 for Laurens County parks and rec proposals.

The full Parks and Recreation sales tax proposal is available for download on the Vote YES To Invest Facebook page.

Another park-improvements portion of the sales tax vote is an $891,220 appropriation for the Town of Gray Court.

The town is in Laurens County’s fastest-growing area - near the border with Greenville County/Simpsonville along I-385. ZF Transmissions is located here, as is the county’s newest industrial area, The Connexial Center. The new Fountain Inn High School isn’t far away.

The County Parks & Recreation proposal (92 pages) scatters its money. Splash pads will be installed at parks in Joanna, Ware Shoals and Laurens. These are the other projects: 

Pine St Park, Clinton, $70,000;

Calvert Ave Park, Clinton, $56,400 or $18,000 for dog-park option;

Pinehaven Park, Clinton, $66,000;

Ella Savage Park, Clinton, $80,900;

Clinton Mill Park, $107,000;

Martha Dendy Community Park, $79,000;

Lydia-Bailey Children’s Park, $71,000;

Oak St Park, $86,000;

Cross Hill Park, $40,000;

Waterloo Park, $34,000;

Irvin Pitts Park, Ware Shoals, $106,500;

Hickory Tavern Park, $55,900.

Sanctified Hill Park, Fountain Inn, $53,400;

Laurens City Park, $24,000;

Little River Park, Laurens, $6,000;

Joanna Park, $49,600;

Cross Hill Park, $4,000;

Charlie Lollis Park, Hickory Tavern $37,600;

Karl H. Dixon Park, Hickory Tavern, $28,800;

Laurens County Park, $368,000 - includes an abilities-inclusive playground for $117,000.

Safety material will be installed on the ground beneath all of the new playgrounds.

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