By Stan Welch
One of the highlights of the Town of West Pelzer’s centennial celebration later this year will be the official opening of the Town’s newly constructed Chapman Park. As summer passes, no official ceremony has been held, no ribbon cut; although children frequent the park and adults sit on benches and the low wall surrounding the park and chat.
Mayor Peggy Paxton says there is a very good reason for that. “Later this year, our town will reach its one hundredth birthday, and we plan to incorporate the park’s official opening into the other events we are planning to mark our centennial,” she said in a telephone interview with The Journal.
Originally named Frankville after the surveyor who laid out the town, the town was incorporated on September 18, 1913. It later became known as West Pelzer. That incorporation wasn’t approved by the state of South Carolina until later in the year. “I don’t recall the exact date off the top of my head, but I believe it was December 24, 1913 that the incorporation became official” said Paxton.
The park, named for the Chapman family that donated the land, is being paid for by hospitality tax revenues. The hospitality tax is a two per cent tax levied to the sale of all prepared foods inside the town limits, including coffee and sandwiches sold at convenience store.
The Town used $22,000 to make its first lump sum payment on the park last January. “That pretty much emptied the hospitality tax fund, so we really couldn’t do much of anything about the opening. This year, of course, we didn’t have the usual fireworks display because finding certified shooters is so difficult. So we actually saved some money there. And we expect the hospitality tax money to increase this year.”
Paxton said there are a few small things to be cleaned up and finished in the park. “Later this year, we’ll have our fall festival on Halloween night. That always draws big crowds because it gives the kids a safe place to celebrate. Then, after that, we’ll be headed towards the grand opening. I have asked Council to come up with some suggestions for events we can include in the opening. A hundred years is a pretty important birthday, whether it’s a person or a town. We want to have quite a party.”