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Children will soon have a new place to play outside the Springdale Recreation Center with the award last week of a new state grant for playground equipment.
County Administrator Steve Willis said the State Parks and Recreation Development grant, to help buy and install the equipment near the Springdale building, was awarded to the county Feb. 14.
Awarded through the S.C. Parks, Recreation and Tourism department, the grant funds $29,936, with a 20 percent local cash match of $7,484 from the county.
Willis said the grant was available through older funds that county staff were not aware of until they were notified earlier this month by S.C. Sen. Greg Gregory (R-16).
“With these grants there’s so much allocated for each county. There was money out there and we’re not sure if something got lost in transition or we just didn’t get a notice,” he said. “Greg Gregory called up and said the state Parks and Recreation wants this grant to go to Lancaster County.”
From there, county Parks and Recreation Director Hal Hiott, along with the parks and recreation board, reviewed a list of eligible projects, ultimately settling on playground equipment.
“We just can’t thank Greg Gregory enough,” Willis said.
The grant award came just days after Hiott asked council during its Feb. 11 meeting to authorize submitting the grant request.
“There is $29,000 for Lancaster County that was put in the 2011 cycle and is good for three years. It needs to be spent, and the project done, by May,” Hiott said at the meeting. “We were unaware of this.”
“If we don’t use it, it will be taken back by the state agency,” he told council.
In order to submit the request, Hiott said council also needed to approve the local match.
“We’re asking council to come up with the 20 percent match because there is a great need for the program,” he said. “The Springdale Rec Center is our main (facility). We have ball fields and would like to do a playground for after-school children.”
Hiott said the equipment would help fill an important need.
“I’d like to see playgrounds at all our centers because we need something for kids to do other than stay inside cooped up in the gym,” Hiott said. “Plus, it would be a good amenity for when we have ball games and parents have something for their children.”
After examining available spaces, he and the board had identified an area near both the rec building and bus parking where the equipment could be installed.
“It’s in a 100-year floodplain and we can construct something there,” he said.
Meant for children between 6 and 12 years old, Hiott said the department could purchase suitable playground equipment for about $37,000.
“If council approves, I will hand deliver this to Columbia tomorrow,” Hiott said.
Council then unanimously approved submitting the grant for the playground equipment.
The local match will be funded using money in the county’s administrator contractual line item, due to a recent decrease in some contractual costs, Willis said.
Now that the grant has been awarded, Hiott’s department must go through a formal bid process, with the aim to have the entire project completed by May.
“The state officials are happy, the parks and recreation department is happy, the kids who will eventually be on the playground are happy, and I’m smiling,” Willis said.
New deputy director
Also during the council meeting, Hiott introduced his newly hired deputy director, Katherine Small.
“During my time as director, I’ve been run ragged and I’ve had a lot of long days and hard work, so now I’ve hired a deputy director,” Hiott said.
Hiott told council that Small is a good fit for the department.
“She’s a born and bred Lancaster native and a USC graduate,” Hiott said. “She’s very energetic and has a very good personality, which our department needs. She’s going to do a great job.”
Small said she is excited about the new position.
“I’m very excited to be the assistant director and I’m looking forward to working with each of you in the future,” Small said.
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416