LAURINBURG — Scotland County Board of Commissioners took its commitment to building a community center to the next step this week.
During the first phase of its budget planning sessions, commissioners gave Parks and Recreation Director Bryan Graham the go-ahead to contact architects Oakley Collier and explore design plans at a cost of $4,800.
“We can come up with a set of drawings that fits what we feel like would be a good fit here in Scotland County,” Graham told the board.
The plans would include a list of what furnishings and equipment would be needed at the facility, renderings of what the facility would look like, floor plans and an approximate cost to build.
Graham has been visiting other communities of the same size with largely the same demographic makeup such as median age and household income as Scotland County to see what types of centers they have built, how they funded them and how they operated the facilities.
He showed the board a short video of a multi-generational center in Apache Junction, Arizona.
Following the visits, Graham worked with the Parks and Rec advisory board to come up with a plan for a Multi-generational center that would meet the needs of the area.
The center would ideally be 30,000 square feet. To build a 30,000-square-foot center at today’s prices would cost $150 per square foot for a total of approximately $4.5 million — excluding furnishings, equipment and staffing.
“We’re not even in any type of position to consider this right now. The purpose of this is to give me the opportunity to revisit Oakley Collier and to come up with a solid floor plan, one that we could potentially see ourselves going after eventually,” Graham said
He added that the project would need community support.
“So what I want to do is get some solid plans,” Graham said. “Let the community see it. Let the city see it. Let the stake holders see it, so we can be excited about this project.”
The proposed center would have a multi-purpose room with a kitchen, conference rooms, an elevated walking track, youth activity rooms and two basketball courts that could be divided with a partition if needed.
With Parks and Rec youth sports participation growing, Graham said that two basketball courts were a good idea because there have been times when the agreement with county schools to use thier courts could not be worked out due to conflicting schedules or lack of school staffing available.
Graham would also like to explore the idea of adding some type of water feature like a small water park instead of a pool.
“Within the current study an aquatics feature, or a pool was at the top of the list when you ask people in the community what they would like to see,” he said. “But trends now in Parks and Recreation are geared towards aquatic features because if you build a pool after six months to a year, it’s just a body of water and people aren’t really attracted as much to the area.”
A water park rather than a pool would bring in revenue and tourists, according to Graham. The water park would could be rented out as a venue for birthdays and family events and would help offset the cost of building and maintaining it.
The aquatic feature would also add approximately $2 million to the cost of construction, according to County Manager Kevin Patterson.
Commissioner Carol McCall asked Graham to consider how much fees for activities and services would cost to residents hoping to use the facility because the county would not be able to run the facility entirely on its own without charging some additional fees.
The board discussed the option of a local option sales tax on prepared meals in order to fund the project. The tax would have to be approved by voters in a referendum.
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169