Letters to the Editor

South Strand Center

The Horry County Parks and Recreation Department will break ground Thursday for its South Strand Recreation Center on Scipio Lane off Holmestown Road.

The new center will have a full-court hardwood floor gymnasium, jogging track, exercise room, climbing wall, multipurpose rooms and offer a wide range of programs for adults, youth and seniors.

The South Strand Center will be similar to the $4.5 million North Strand Park Recreation Center on S.C. 57 near S.C. 9 in the Little River area. The North Strand center serves 300 to 400 residents a day and "it's only been open six months," says Brent Taylor, director of the Parks & Recreation Department. The South Strand building will be a candidate for LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) from the U.S. Green Building Council. The new center will be near Horry County offices and fire station on Scipio Lane.

"Fairly low key" is how Taylor describes the groundbreaking plans for 10 a.m. Thursday, and that surely fits the director's style. A Georgia native who spent his teen years in Spartanburg, Taylor was parks and recreation director for the city of Greer before taking over the Horry County department four years ago. The department has 28 parks and 27 boat landings across the county, from Causey Landing on the Lumber River in the northwestern corner of the county to Garden City Park and from Vereen Memorial Gardens in Little River to Gunters Lake Landing at the southwestern corner.

The South Strand Recreation Center will be the fourth community and recreation center constructed in recent years including the C.B. Berry Community and Historical Center in Little River, the James R. Frazier Community Center on Bucksport Road in Conway and the North Strand center. A fifth center will be in Carolina Forest, Taylor says. The county issued bonds for construction of the North Strand, South Strand and Carolina Forest centers. Taylor says construction will begin later this year on the Carolina Forest center. The construction bonds are paid from the county's recreation millage (real estate tax).

Taylor says a conservative estimate would be "a million usages a year at all facilities," and he feels the department will continue in a growth mode as two more recreation centers open. "A lot of people are still discovering us."

With only eight full-time workers on maintenance crews and more than 50 facilities, the department is spread thinly. "Trash is a big challenge," requiring about 30 hours of work a week, Taylor says. Total department employees total 80, including part-time seasonal workers.

Gary Loftus, District 4 representative on the Horry County Council, says the new center will take some pressure off use of the ball fields at the Huckabee Complex of the town of Surfside Beach. The two facilities will compliment one another, Loftus says. The South Strand Center will serve the southern half of District 4, all of District 5 and parts of District 6.