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Walnut Creek complex opens

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By Reece Murphy

After years in the making, Lancaster County is the proud owner of a new 60-acre, $7 million park complex in Indian Land: Walnut Creek Park.

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Residents of Walnut Creek, the once-troubled neighborhood formerly known as Edenmoor, joined the subdivision’s developers and county officials Wednesday, April 24, for a ribbon-cutting celebrating the park’s turnover to county control.

The celebration marks the completion of a development agreement established with the county in 2006 and follows extensive renovations at the park by Walnut Creek owners Edenmoor Land Acquistions LLC (ELA) to repair years of damage from neglect after the original developers walked away from the project.

Longtime Walnut Creek resident Jeff Phillips, who attended the event with his wife, Rachel, and son, Ryan, 2, said he was impressed both by the park and ELA’s commitment to finishing the project.

“We’ve been waiting for years,” Phillips said. “They’ve kept their promise. That not only Indian Land, but all of Lancaster County, is going to be able to enjoy this is going to be great.

“Having a park your kids can enjoy and grow up in is great,” he said.

From playgrounds to pickleball courts, the idea of activities for all ages is built into Walnut Creek’s infrastructure.

The park also includes two tennis courts, six baseball/softball fields, two soccer fields and two full-sized outdoor basketball courts, as well as a covered picnic area and a field house with park offices, concessions and restrooms.

Lancaster County Parks and Recreation Director Hal Hiott said the park should provide a boon to the county’s economy as well. He said the county has already contracted with a company that will host baseball and softball tournaments there.

“That starts May 4 and 5 and it’s going to be three times a month through September,” Hiott said. “We’e just excited to have it (the park), and ready to start programming.”

In addition to sports activities, Walnut Creek will eventually include access to the first Lancaster County portion of the Carolina Thread Trail along nearby Twelve Mile Creek.

The Thread, as the trail system is known, is a network of nature trails, greenways and conservation corridors connecting 15 counties in North and South Carolina. The Walnut Creek portion is in the early stages of development planning.

During his presentation, Lancaster County Council Chairman Larry McCullough, who represents Indian Land’s District 7, lauded ELA for a job well done.

ELA is a partnership between LStar Management of Raleigh, N.C., and Saybrook Municipal Opportunity Fund of Santa Monica, Calif.

McCullough recalled the “mess” the former developer, Lawson’s Bend, left when it abandoned the project in October 2008 under the burden of $2.2 million in contractor liens.

The abandonment left the Edenmoor neighborhood, an EMS station that was part of the development agreement and the park to crumble, while vandals virtually destroyed the park’s clubhouse and stole thousands of dollars worth of equipment, including an ice machine, toilets and the heating and air system.

All that changed, McCullough said, after ELA bought the property during a tax sale by the Lancaster County Forfeited Land Commission.

In an act of appreciation, McCullough presented LStar officials with a proclamation officially declaring April 24 as Walnut Creek Day.

“We had some snakes who came in here and left the county holding the bag,” McCullough said of the project. “It was going to take a company with experience and integrity to take it and form it into the jewel it is.

“It is outstanding to work with a company – a professional, top-tier company – that listens to us, develops a plan, says what it’s going to do and then does it,” he said.

LStar co-founder and managing partner Kyle Corkum said the sight of families enjoying the park during a recent visit was emotional for him and reminded him that the project was about more than just developing properties.

“To see those (baseball) fields filled with kids ... reminded me that this investment we made here is about families,” he said. “We’re truly honored to be a part of this community.”

District 7 County Councilman Brian Carnes also lauded the company for the work and said the park was much-needed, a community amenity not only for Indian Land, but for Lancaster County as a whole.

“When you look at a community, the kind of parks and recreation you have for kids is critical,” Carnes said. “I’m thankful for LStar for doing this for the whole community. It goes a long way in saying how they want to be a partner with our community as a whole.”

For more details on Walnut Creek Park and future park events, visit  www.walnutcreeksc.com or www.mylancastersc.org under the Departments tab.

 

 Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151