Georgetown County’s residents and visitors saw a burst of activity this year in expanded recreational offerings for all ages as well as new public facilities to meet growth on Waccamaw Neck.
In February, Waccamaw Neck got a new library, after many years of planning and waiting for funds. The new facility moved from Library Lane on Pawleys Island mainland a few miles north to Willbrook Boulevard in Litchfield, making it a bit more convenient for Murrells Inlet residents.
The 17,000-square-foot library replaced one that was 10,000 square feet. It also offers much more room for public meetings and activities, with an auditorium that seats 200, and two smaller gathering rooms.
The old library had one meeting room.
Donations helped with the auditorium for the new library, as well as some of its contents.
The county bought Litchfield Exchange mall last year, and this year it remodeled the rear of the building and installed courtrooms and offices for the Pawleys Island and Murrells Inlet magistrates, as well as a sheriff’s substation.
Some businesses continue to operate in the former mall and pay rent to the county, but the county may use more of the building for public facilities in coming years.
Donations and private partnerships helped expand some of the recreational facilities. The Pawleys Island Kiwanis Club paid for a new playground for pre-schoolers at Stables Park.
Waccamaw Trail Blazers bicycle club provided the funds and labor to build a four-mile mountain bike trail at 8 Oaks Park on U.S. 521 west of Georgetown.
“It’s a true rough off-road mountain bike trail for cyclists looking for a different experience than what you get with the Waccamaw Neck bikeway,’’ said Allen Payne, a county parks supervisor, when the trail opened.
He said the trail has trees, hills and wetlands and there are plans to expand it to eight miles.
Also this spring, the Waccamaw Neck bikeway opened a significant extension for both internal traffic and beach visitation.
The 3-mile extension added a pathway from Willbrook Boulevard south on Old Kings Highway to Waverly Road, then east to Waccamaw Elementary School.
That reaches more residential areas and makes it easier for more people to use, as well as to cross the highway to get to the beaches and other attractions, said Paul Battaglino, the county’s capital projects coordinator, when the path opened.
Besides adding to the Waccamaw Neck bike path, the new piece is “a significant addition to the East Coast Greenway,’’ a hoped-for bike path extending from Maine to Florida, Battaglino said.
Another new recreational amenity is two rock-climbing walls, one at Beck Recreation Center in Georgetown and the other at Waccamaw Regional Recreation Center in Litchfield. These have a fee of $3 for 30 minutes.
The county-operated Carroll Ashmore Campbell Marine Complex on the Sampit River in Georgetown has seen an uptick in activity this year with a new major fishing tournament and the return of two others, plus a boat show.
The spring’s B.A.S.S. Nation Southern Regional Championship brought hundreds of participants and had an economic effect of more than $400,000, county officials said.
County Administrator Sel Hemingway said the county actively courted the tournament as well as others, and will continue to seek out fishing tourneys.
Last year, the Inshore Fishing Association brought its Redfish and Kayak Tour to the landing, then came back for both spring and summer events.
The county is also courting sports tourneys such as baseball and softball, and 17 were scheduled this year. Each one brings in scores of visitors who stay in local lodging and spend money on food and other activities.
The county has had traditional youth sports for many years, but this year an activity favored by older residents appeared on the scene and then mushroomed.
It’s pickleball, a popular game played with rules similar to tennis.
David Cooper, coordinator at Waccamaw Regional Recreation Center, said he noticed a couple playing the game, so he brought in someone from Myrtle Beach to teach it, and now there are 20 to 50 people playing every day.
“It has just snowballed,’’ Cooper said recently.
So much so that now the county will sponsor a pickleball league. League play was to begin Sept. 14.
Contact Zane Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.