Pelzer Town Council started the new year on a positive note, accepting the offer of two donations from the Pelzer Heritage Commission that will enhance recreation opportunities at Wardlaw Park and along the Saluda River. Two councilmembers, Mike Matthews and Donna Ide, and mayor Will Ragland were also sworn in.
Pelzer Heritage Commission (PHC) President Larry Coker told town council Tuesday night that the PHC would like to donate “upper mill property” along the river to the town. The only stipulation was that the property stay in the town and be used for parks, trails and recreation.
The property being donated extends along the Saluda River from the Hwy. 20 bridge to where new cottages are being built and “Overlook Park”, down to the Timmerman Kayak launching facility.
Coker said the land can only be used for green space such as parks and trails. He said the PHC had received grants of $750,500 to clean up and cap the old Pelzer dump site, now called Overlook Park and that the property Chris Hill is building new homes on, was cleared by EPA and SCDHEC.
Coker said the PHC, with help from Anderson County, is also in the process of applying for a $100,000 grant for the property. Coker said the PHC would provide the twenty percent match ($20,000), needed for the grant if the town accepts the property donation.
Coker said the PHC also wanted to purchase playground equipment and other items for Wardlaw Park. He said the PHC would donate up to $8,000 for the improvements.
Mayor Will Ragland thanked Coker and the PHC for the donations. “It is very generous of the PHC to make these donations,” he said. “We are excited to work with you. You have been waiting a long time for this to happen. Thank you for your hard work. We know where your hearts are and that you do it all for Pelzer.”
The Wardlaw Park improvements were also the topic of considerable discussion.
Mayor Ragland said that the Wardlaw Park is designated as a park with the state and that any donations for improvements would be permanent.
Coker said the playground equipment the PHC was looking at included swings and slides. He said they would also like to add a firepit, picnic tables and a shelter to help make the park more usable.
Councilman Eddie Waits suggested combining the PHC funding with town funding to be able to get more for the park.
Council agreed accept the $8,000 PHC donation and to decide at the next meeting whether to add hospitality tax funding to the amount. Ragland said they will talk with residents and decide what they can do to get the greatest potential for the park.
During discussion on accepting the PHC river property donation, Councilman Eddie Waits raised several questions including whether there were any other stipulations or liabilities that may come with the property if the town accepts it.
Town Attorney Richard Thompson explained the normal process in a property transfer is to determine if there are any defects in the title on the property and said that there would have to be additional research done to determine if there are other unknown expenses to maintain it.
PHC President Larry Coker said that $700,000 had been spent on cleanup and capping the dump site property and that DHEC had cleared the property for residential construction where the Pelzer River Cottages are being built. He said there was some soil contamination at Overlook Park and that you couldn’t build on it. “We have the documentation,” Coker said.
Council unanimously agreed to accept the property donation offer.
Council then went into executive session to discuss a contractural matter.