Dorchester County Council considering two referendums to fund park projects, libraries

Dorchester County Council considering two referendums to fund park projects, libraries

DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Dorchester County is considering two new bond referendums to fund park projects and libraries.

The court says voters were forced to support both options or none at all. The new bond referendums could be on the ballot as early as November of this year.

Dorchester County Council passed the first reading on Monday.

One referendum is requesting $38 million dollars for parks and recreation projects. The other is requesting $30 million to build new libraries.

The referendum question back in 2016 requested $43 million for both.

Dorchester County Councilman and Chairman of the Parks Commission, Jay Byars, said they are requesting more money because construction costs have increased and the county is now looking into new opportunities.

"We don't have the tax base sitting around to just do it right now," Byars said.

If passed, the library money would be used to build three or four new libraries across the county, right now there are two.

The county is considering putting the libraries in the Oakbrook area, near Fort Dorchester High School in North Charleston, in downtown Summerville and possibly a branch in Ridgeville.

There are several parks projects that will take place if the funding is approved.

"In other words, for the $38 million, it's probably going to be about $35 a year," Byars said. "So you're looking at less than $3 a month on a median house price to be able to have first-class parks 10 or 15 minutes from your house versus having to drive to Charleston County, Wanamaker, James Island County Park. Those parks are awesome but we'd like to stay close to home."

The county is fully permitted with designs on an 83-acre park on the Ashley River. It will cost $13 million. There will be a 6-acre pond, hiking trails, picnic shelter, a small dog park, a ropes course, large playground, splash pad for kids, a climbing wall and more.

The county is also looking to add more recreational activities in St. George that include baseball fields, a soccer and football field, splash pads and basketball courts. It is expected to cost $6 million.

The county is planning to spend about $4.5 million dollars in Pine Trace near Miles Jamison Road. It will be a 300-acre urban forest that will include walking trails, a disc golf course and more.

"Some of the additional funding will be used for trails, but we also have an opportunity to buy several hundred acres on the Ashley River that would protect that property from 800 to 1,200 homes going there," Byars said.

Byars says that property could be tied into the other Ashley River property.

The referendums will have to pass three Dorchester County Council readings before it can officially go on the ballot.

There’s an approval deadline of August 15 for the referendum to be placed on the ballot.

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