MONCKS CORNER, SC (WCSC) - Parts of Berkeley County's number one tourist destination, Cypress Gardens, could open by mid to late summer following the devastating October floods.
Tuesday, County spokesman Michael Mule said Council members will work on creating a bidding contract to start the process of repair work in the Gardens.
Last week the County received its first insurance check following the historic October floods.
"Now that we know what has all been damaged there's excitement," said Cypress Gardens Director Heather McDowell. "Now we get to update everything. When everybody comes back in it's going to be 'wow'."
Mule said the repair work will be done in three phases.
Phase one will repair some of the most heavily traveled areas of the garden. That includes the boat landing, walking trails, butterfly house and the gardens. It's expected to open to the public for admission by the end of the summer.
"The insurance check will help cover some of the demolition in [Dean Hall, the wedding reception building]," Mule said. "We also believe it will help get the boat landing up and running so people can recreate The Notebook scene."
The swamp area has been the setting for several blockbuster movies like The Notebook and The Patriot.
Right now the landing area is sloping because of the amount of water that destroyed some of the beams that hold it up. Repair work would include re-enforced structures among other repairs.
Phase two of the construction will focus on the educational halls, gift shop, and permanent bathrooms. It's expected to open by the fall.
The final phase, the wedding reception buildings and Heritage Center, won't open until the Spring of 2017.
"This is the number one tourist destination in Berkeley County," said Mule. "We want to make sure it comes back better than it was before."
The Gardens are known for the number of wedding receptions they have inside the park. While you won't be able to have a reception any time soon, the wedding trellis in the lawn area will be open by the end of the summer.
"They can rent that and they can do their wedding right here on the stage, then they would have the beautiful swamp as the background," McDowell said. "We also have another sight back there, it's called the Wedding Garden Gazebo, and that will also be ready for them to use during the summer."
Meanwhile, weddings had to be canceled due to the park's closure.
"We have been helping the brides find other places to go," McDowell said. "A lot of local businesses have contacted us and given them discounts if their wedding had to be canceled here. We're trying to support them in any way we can."
The damage in the park is estimated between $6 million and $10 million.
Mule said the County doesn't want to repair it at the cost of taxpayers.
"The process to secure the funding from insurance, from the federal disaster agencies, like FEMA, is not an easy process," Mule added. "To be honest they're overwhelmed as well with the number of people across the state submitting the same paperwork we are."
Volunteers are working daily to help reopen the park, and remain confident about it happening soon.
There have been several large scale volunteer days over the last few months. The next event is scheduled for April 23.
"We just want to reassure the public we are working hard to get Cypress Gardens back to where it needs to be," Mule said. "We ask for their patience, and hopefully for them to come and celebrate with us mid to late summer when we have phase one open up."
The County must have a formal vote to approve a bidder for construction.
Mule said the vote could happen sometime in May. The construction on phase one could then start by late May or early June.