Lack of funding, security closes Dolly Cooper Park – For now

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By Stan Welch

Following the defeat of the proposed hospitality tax, the Dolly Cooper Park in Powdersville has been closed, at least temporarily. District Six Councilman Ken Waters, who sponsored the tax proposal, told The Journal that the failure of the Council to pass the tax had left him with no more ideas to fund the further development of the forty or so acres along the banks of the Saluda River.

Had the tax passed, approximately three million dollars from a twenty million dollar general obligation bond would have been earmarked for the park. The proposed tax was defeated at second reading by a vote of four to two.

“I’ve looked at plan after plan since I’ve been on Council, but the hospitality tax was pretty much my last idea. I don’t like taxes any more than any one else does, but that property has been sitting there for a decade now, and all we have is a kayak launch. Now that’s fine, but a lot more people have kids that play ball and soccer than kayak or canoe.”

Waters dismissed the suggestion that the park’s closing was a sour grapes response to the tax being defeated. “The reason I suggested closing the gate is because we have no way to supervise the property, and keep the people using it safe. We have some serious liability issues to be addressed. We also have ADA (American Disability Act) compliance issues that have to be met.”

Waters added that a good bit of unsavory and unsafe behavior takes place at the park after dark, as well, “You wouldn’t think that people could tear up what is basically just a piece of property, but we’ve had signage destroyed time after time, and other vandalism too. And you have to worry about some fool falling in the river and drowning too. I hope we can come up with some solutions in short order, but the general consensus is that locking the gate is the prudent thing to do in the meantime.”

Waters believes that the burden falls back to the public now.

“You know, the folks in the Wren Youth Association have done a great job with the Hurricane Park facility,” Waters said. “I will be holding a public forum near the end of October and I hope that the folks in this area come up with some creative ideas. Maybe they can organize an effort to create recreational activities at the park. I certainly stand ready to work with them in any way I can.”