2010-01-08 / Front Page

Park wins over expensive homes

By Cathy Cobbs

A 37–acre recreational park or 88 homes priced from $250,000 to $400,000?

In these tough economic times, believe it or not, the park won.

Sycamore Development Company, after being approached by the Richland County Recreation Commission, sold the land, located at the corner of Rimer Pond and Longtown roads, for $1.3 million after principals in the company saw the need for a park in the area.

“Sycamore Development certainly could have sold the property for more money, but we consider the recreation commission’s plans a wise investment in the future, and we were excited to partner with the county on a project that will have such a positive impact on the area,” said Michael Letts, the company’s vice president, in a press release sent out by the parks department.

In an interview with the Columbia Star

Monday, Letts said that the Blythewood area is “vastly underserved” in terms of recreation facilities. Many residents use North Springs Park on Clemson Road, which is located in a heavily trafficked corridor.

“Although we had put a lot of preparation into the project as well as a big financial commitment in order to build the subdivision, we felt it was in the best interest to use it as a park,” Letts said. “The traffic getting to and from North Springs Park is a real problem.”

The agency says the 37 acres may be used for nature trails, structured paths and, perhaps, an amphitheater.

Letts said although the land deal has been completed, it would be awhile before Sycamore, which will oversee the development, turns the first shovelful of dirt. The process may take several years of input and planning before construction can begin.

“Right now they are in the public process, where the citizens will help determine what they want,” Letts said. “I believe there will be some sort of ball fields, including football, baseball, and softball, as they are desperately needed in the area.”

In addition, Letts envisions the public will want walking trails, and perhaps, a dog park. The 37–acre site, which has never been developed, is desirable because it is fairly flat throughout, and contains a five–acre pond.

“Richland County looked at several sites that were much hillier, and I think this site was ideal because it was more level,” Letts said.

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