The S.C. House and Senate this week voted to override several of Gov. Nikki Haley’s vetoes, including re-establishing funding for a Myrtle Beach playground designed for children with disabilities and renovations to the former Horry County Museum.
Conway will receive $250,000 in state money to convert the former museum into a banquet hall and Savannah’s Playground will get $100,000 from the state to put toward the project.
Conway Mayor Alys Lawson said city officials set aside $500,000 for renovating the old museum in their most recent budget, but the state money would allow them to avoid completing the construction in stages.
“We all screamed with joy,” Lawson said of learning the city would get the money. “We think it’s an important economic development project for our city. We appreciate our legislators working with us ... and explaining the funding to [other legislators].”
When Haley vetoed the items she referred to the Conway funds as “old fashioned pork” – or earmarks for special projects. Haley said she vetoed the playground because she believed each community should determine how and if to fund a local playground.
“These are not projects that the state’s taxpayers should be financing,” she wrote in her veto letter.
The House voted 108-0 in favor of reinstating the funds for Savannah’s Playground and 75-24 in favor of funding the Conway renovations. A vote tally was not available for the Senate vote as of Wednesday.
Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes formed a nonprofit organization, Savannah’s Playground, to build a $1.5 million facility on 4.5 acres behind Crabtree Gymnasium. So far, he’s raised $650,000 for the project.
Rhodes noted that Haley vetoed a $200,000 appropriation for Savannah’s Playground last year and the General Assembly overrode her decision. He said he was very happy to hear the project would be able to get funding again this year.
“It’s going to be a tremendous help for us,” he said, adding that the group is expected to order equipment for the first phase of the playground, which is expected to include play areas for all children such as an interactive play area and water play park. “We’re going to get out and start our fundraising campaign soon.”
Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or on Twitter @TSN_mprabhu.