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More upgrades planned at Stevens Park in Kershaw

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By Denyse Clark

KERSHAW – Stevens Park, 200 Close Circle, is an 18.6 acre tract of natural woodland and park area donated to the town of Kershaw in the 1940s by the John T. Stevens family. 

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Steven’s wife, a member of the town’s garden club at that time, initiated improvements at the park.

Fast forward about 70 years and the Kershaw Community Park Council has partnered with the town and several other entities, such as Haile Gold Mine and Kershaw Area Resource Exchange (KARE) to include a playground, skatepark, walking trails, memorial garden and amphitheater, said KCPC administrator Frances Moreland. 

KCPC has added to the improvements made at the park by Leroy Springs over the years and felt it was important to keep this park alive for the town, Moreland said.

“We partnered with the town to bring that park back,” she said. “We asked the community what they wanted to see there?”

Moreland said when Stevens first gave the property to the town, a concrete kiddie pool was built and in 1950, Leroy Springs built a larger pool and added a pavilion and picnic area. 

“In 1960 or 1961, Leroy Springs built a recreation center, bowling alley, a grill and later added tennis courts,” she said. “Springs’ final project was they built a new pool and bathhouse around 2004 or 2005.”

Moreland said Springs then gave the park back to the town but by then, “the bowling lanes were poor and the tennis court was shot.”

“In 2008, some citizens bonded together for a playground,” she said. “There was $100,000 given for a top-of-the-line playground and everyone said, ‘that works great for 2 to 8 year-olds, but what’s next for the adults?’”

Moreland said when Kershaw Town Council considered selling the park, townspeople and KCPC got involved.

“We decided Stevens Park was worth saving and renovating,” she said. “There were enough good things there to fight for.”

Moreland said over the years, much work has been done at Stevens Park which included park designs by Clemson University students, planning for power lines and input from a landscape architect.

“In 2012, KCPC became a non-profit and began a series of grant writing,” she said. “Here we are in 2014 with the town backing us. They renovated the bowling lanes and we put in what was needed to reopen the grill. The young people wanted a skatepark and $98,000 worth of equipment was donated for a skatepark based at the former tennis courts.”

With the help of S.C. Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D-27), there was a renovation at the pavilion which locals call “the viewing deck,” Moreland said. And with a Duke Energy grant, a memorial garden and plaza were created.

“We are three-quarters of the way finished with the memorial garden where there’s a gazebo, walking trail and beautiful natural area,” she said. “Now, we’re working on our outdoor classroom amphitheater with a $200,000 J. Marion Sims grant. It will blend into the natural scope of the land.”

Moreland said the amphitheater will be used by local schools and she hopes for weddings and natural education classes.

“When we finish the trails, memorial garden and amphitheater, we plan to close in the pool and use it year-round and have outdoor tennis courts,” she said. “It’s been pretty amazing how it’s all worked out. We tried to follow a plan but be very flexible.” 

Moreland said as the renovations to Stevens Park continue, KCPC is soliciting donations to assist in the efforts.

To donate, make checks payable to: KCPC, P.O. Box 83, Kershaw, S.C. 29067. 

For more information, visit www.kershawpark.com and see photos of the park on Facebook. 

Contact Moreland at (803) 475-9664 or email her at kershawpark@gmail.com.

“We’re so excited about what we’ve accomplished – we have a long way to go but this park has brought a lot of people to Kershaw,” Moreland said. “It’s a benefit for the town and a good partnership with the town. We’re putting things there to make people want to use this park.”

 

Contact reporter Denyse Clark at (803) 283-1152