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PENNIES for Parks: Upgrades await all city and county parks

Children of Laurens County, or adults
who are young at heart, will have splash pads to play in to cool off if the Capital Project Sales Tax passes in next week’s election.

The three splash pads will go into parks within the City of Laurens, Joanna and Ware Shoals as part of a large scale upgrade to the almost 25 parks located within Laurens County.

“This is not for building new parks,” said Andy Howard, the director of Laurens County Parks, Recreation and Tourism. “It’s for bringing what we have into a modern day standard, which makes the parks safer, more useful and obviously more inviting.”

Howard said he added three splash pads because for families with small children, it would take them to an entire- ly new level of fun during the hot summer months.

He wanted to provide access to some water but pools are too costly to build, maintain and staff.

“The best way to do water access is a splash pad because it doesn’t require a lifeguard and you use a push button to make it work, so it doesn’t require complex recirculation systems,” Howard said. “But we could only manage three so we are putting one in the City of Laurens because it’s centrally located and one each at far ends of the county in Joanna and Ware Shoals,” Howard said. “That seemed the most fair way to do it.”

The overall proposal is one which can provide a real positive impact for just about everyone in the county, he said, since the parks are for use free of charge and are for everyone, residents and visi- tors and future residents, regardless of age.

“I took an inventory of every park in the county and in each of the cities and towns because we wanted to offer help for parks to encourage people to get out and use them and get out- side,” Howard said. “So the proposal calls for upgrades to all the parks,” he said, with the exception of Hickory Tavern Community Park which is located on private property.

The assistance will offer a wide variety of improvements based on the biggest needs at each park, he said, and those range from new mulch to new playgrounds, new lighting, picnic tables or parking lots. The Fountain Inn Park is in rough shape, for instance, Howard said, so the proposal plans for a renovation of the basketball court.

The work will not include the addition of additional space to the existing parks and no new utilities. Instead, there is an emphasis on safety and modernizing the parks so that they will be more inviting, Howard said.

The total cost for the park upgrade project comes to $1,551,500, and the majority of that – $736,700 – is for the new playground equipment and furnishings that many of the parks badly need.

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