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HEATH SPRINGS – Heath Springs Town Administrator Tony Starnes announced at the council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 19 that the long-awaited work in the Heath Springs Park is complete.
Lancaster County Parks & Recreation, which manages the park, updated the equipment on the children’s playground just before school started, Starnes said.
“They added four pieces of equipment, painted the swings set and the monkey bars,” he said. “They took the merry-go-round out because it was considered dangerous.”
At the council meeting in November 2013, Starnes said Heath Springs had received a $7,500 grant from the John T. Stevens Foundation of Kershaw with which the town was going to purchase three or four pieces of equipment for the park.
However, town officials learned of a new, required equipment safety surface mandate that changed everything.
“We found out that now, when new equipment is added, you also have to add a safety surface,” Starnes said. “It’s going to cost about $17,000 to $18,000 for the equipment, the installation and the safety surface installation.”
Starnes said the county’s recreation department contributed a $6,000 donation to add to the $7,500 grant.
By its December 2013 meeting, council decided to forego their request for community donations and fund the remaining $1,700 to finish the work.
“I don’t think we need to let this dwindle for $1,700,” town councilman Mark Bridges said at that meeting. “I don’t think we need to wait until we get every bit of it. I don’t want us to lose this thing over $1,700 and lose our grant money.”
Starnes said there was no stipulation on the grant deadline for using the money given.
Bridges put his comment in the form of a motion which was seconded by councilman Ted Sowell and unanimously approved by council.
Fast forward eight months and required safety issues have been addressed and the upgraded Heath Springs Park is now open to the public.
“Everything looks good,” he said.
Improvements at L.T. Reeves Park
This was good news for the town but some of the best news that Starnes shared this night was that L.T. Reeves Park, where children had previously sat on a large, plastic trash can because there was no other seating, had received benches and other upgrades from the county’s park and recreation department.
“They planted grass, repainted lines on the court and put benches over there,” Starnes told the council.
Deborah Truesdale, who lives on Truesdale Street just in front of the park, brought the bench issue to council’s attention in July. She said she was happy to see a response to her concerns.
“I was just ecstatic some of the work got done,” Truesdale said. “But, I was sure they (recreation officials) said there would be benches on all four corners of the court, there are just two there now so I’m looking for two more.”
Reeves park consists of only a basketball court and Truesdale said trees have taken over the park so cutting back the limbs on the trees would improve the overall look of the recreation area.
“The trees need to be limbed up so you can see the park better,” she said. “I've talked to the community and they’re happy their kids now have a place to sit.”
Hal Hiott, director of Lancaster County Parks & Recreation Department, said he learned about the bench issue while discussing the Heath Springs Park upgrades with Starnes.
“We went over and looked at the park and some of the complaints were reasonable and some were not,” he said. “We installed two benches, relined the court, painted the backboards, cut some limbs and cleaned up trash, some of which was not on our property. There are still a couple of things we need to do.”
Hiott was asked about the number of benches that were placed at the park based on Truesdale's response.
“We got the request for a bench and we put two there and those are nice benches,” he said. “We depend on community residents to tell us what’s needed at the parks and we try to help. It’s a challenge because we’re understaffed but we try to do the best we can.”
Contact reporter Denyse Clark at (803) 283-1152