Council OKs See Lancaster plan

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By Chris Sardelli

Lancaster County Council has approved its portion of See Lancaster’s reorganization plan.

See Lancaster, which promotes tourism in the county, had requested that council allow it to move its welcome center into the Lancaster County Courthouse after the building is renovated.

This was the latest step in a series of restructuring moves to retool See Lancaster’s aim, while also splitting oversight of the group between the city of Lancaster and the county.

See Lancaster board chairman Eric Rowell and Jay Rainey, who is heading a special taskforce for the group, answered questions about the plan at Monday’s County Council meeting.

The plan would move the welcome center from the Lancaster County Council of the Arts’ headquarters to the renovated courthouse, most likely by July 1.  

Several council members asked where See Lancaster’s office would be in the courthouse.

County Administrator Steve Willis said there’s no definite plan yet, but said there are four empty rooms on the bottom floor, any of which could house the group’s offices.

Councilman Jack Est-ridge expressed concern about how Lancaster County’s Historical Commission, whose members are appointed by County Council, would be involved.

He said commission members have “put a lot of time and effort” into maintaining the courthouse, and should also have been considered to receive space in the renovated building.

“I don’t think anybody cherishes our courthouse more than the historical commission. Their name wasn’t mentioned,” Estridge said. “Let’s not leave those folks out.”

Council members Kathy Sistare and Rudy Carter echoed Estridge’s concerns. Sistare agreed but said she would support the plan as long as the commission was included.

Carter said it wasn’t intentional the commission was left out, but said it needs to be involved because of its past work with the building.

“I think what we have here is a great fit,” Carter said. “Both (organizations) are here to help Lancaster County. I think it will be a positive thing.”

Rowell urged council to accept See Lancaster’s proposal because he said it would help bring more money to the area.

“This is more than just a welcome center. This will help to increase visitor spending in the county,” Rowell said. “And we will continue our relationships with organizations like the historical commission.”

Once the plan was amended to include the historical commission, council unanimously approved the county’s portion of the plan.

Willis said the estimated cost for the county to help See Lancaster with the welcome center would probably be more than $30,000. This amount would include the costs for a welcome center employee, fringe benefits, supplies and other miscellaneous items.

The first portion of See Lancaster’s restructuring plan was approved by Lancaster City Council on March 10.

The plan has See Lancaster merging with the Performing Arts Series at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster.

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli  at csardelli@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416