Vision For A New Clinton Public Library
Clinton City Council voted unanimously Monday to spend up to $15,000 to develop a plan for a new library downtown.
After meeting in executive session for almost two hours, council agreed to offer a grant of up to $15,000 to Wheeler & Wheeler, who want to develop the library in the old Industrial Supply complex on West Main Street.
Information received by council indicates Wheeler & Wheeler, a Columbia developer group, will hire Garvin Design Group to develop a site design for the property.
The information said the developers are “interested in acquiring the property.”
The grant from the city “is contingent on the consent of the property owners and the agreement by the property owners to reimburse the city either when the property is sold or the development commences,” according to the motion made by Council Member Danny Cook.
Currently, the city leases library space in a shopping center on Jacobs Highway. The $1,450 a month lease expires in August. The city must let the property owner, NAI Earle Furman, know of “our intent” by March 1, according to information given to council.
Council was told the money for the grant can be taken from the city’s 2019 Economic Development Grant from Clinton-Newberry Natural Gas Authority.
Also Monday, council voted unanimously to ask Gov. Henry McMaster to help the city obtain property at Exit 54 on I-26 where the SC Department of Transportation has a maintenance shed.
Mayor Bob McLean said the city knows people who will “buy the property today” and build “something major” on it.
City Manager Bill Ed Cannon said the DOT maintenance shed is “the biggest detriment to (the city’s) economic development and to hospitality opportunities.”
He said the property could mean a lot to the city’s hospitality tax fund.
Cannon said Kevin McLaughlin, SCDOT District Two engineering administrator, told him in a phone conversation that DOT will not transfer the property to the city.
McLean said the city has been trying to get the property – including trying to trade property to DOT – for three or four years.
A draft letter to send to McMaster was presented to council Monday night.
“The City of Clinton, along with Pacolet Milliken, is currently developing the property on the north side of Exit 54 as a ‘Class A’ Industrial Park. The park currently occupies 50 acres directly behind the maintenance shed property. The city is in the process of acquiring an additional 300 acres on the eastern side of the shed.”
The city is asking McMaster’s office to “support this initiative in order to bring some much-needed economic development to the Laurens area. Several convenience store chains and a hotel developer have expressed interests in the property.”
Cannon said members of the Laurens County legislative delegation will be sent a copy of the letter. McLean said the delegation is drafting another letter to McMaster asking for help in getting the maintenance shed moved.
During an administrative briefing, Cannon said he wanted to address some “misinformation” regarding the city’s recreation center on Hwy. 56 North and the pavilion planned for Vance Park downtown.
“Council has not approved to build a pavilion,” he said. Bids will be received next month and council will then vote to approve the project and to approve the best bid for construction, estimated to be $600,000 total, he said.
“My first priority and my first concern is the recreation complex,” Cannon said. He said the master plan, once drawn, “should be deemed by council to be suitable for our citizens.
“I wasn’t told to build a complex for travel ball,” he said. He said the complex will be for the citizens of Clinton.
State law is very specific about how hospitality and accommodations tax money can be used only for projects to promote tourism.
“We have purchased a beautiful piece of property,” the city manager said. “It is not a baseball complex. It’s a multi-use facility. If it can be built to hold ball tournaments, that will be a big plus.”
He said the amphitheater included in the conceptual drawings “is only a concept because of the topography” which would require not much dirt being moved.
“If the amphitheater is even built, I envision that will be down the road a bit,” Cannon said. “And there are no plans to build a water park at the complex or anywhere else in Clinton.”
He said the conceptual plans have a “splash pad” for kids to use to cool off.
“All these rumors have stirred up our citizens,” he said. “Listen carefully to what’s said at the meetings. Please be positive. Give us a chance. I think we will build something we can all be proud of.”