Lexington urges nature group move to park pond

tflach@thestate.comApril 19, 2013 

Lexington is inviting a wildlife club to make its new home at a pond in a town park.

The offer comes amid uncertainty about the group’s future, due to the prospect of losing its longtime facility on another pond nearby.

“We’re ready to sit down with them and see how we can be partners,” Mayor Randy Halfacre said. “We certainly are willing to work with them.”

Members of the local chapter of the South Carolina Wildlife Federation are upset that Barr Pond’s role as an unofficial nature preserve is set to disappear as developers acquire land around it for a new neighborhood.

Club members have boated and fished on the 124-acre pond on the outskirts of town and hiked in woods adjoining it for nearly 60 years, using it as an outdoor classroom for youngsters and retirees.

Town leaders suggest the club settle – at least temporarily – into Gibson Pond Park.

The pond there is a third of the size of Barr Pond, but Halfacre said it should be adequate for outdoor instruction and other activities that the 150-member club provides.

Club meetings also could be held at picnic shelters there as weather allows, he added.

“It seems a good match,” Halfacre said.

But club leaders say using the park is a partial solution.

Some of their activities involve abused children who cannot be in public settings such as a park, club leaders said in a statement.

“While it won’t address all our needs, we will keep that (use of the park) in mind, as we could possibly host some outdoor events there,” the statement said.

Club leaders are worried about losing access to Barr Pond, a mile west of the town park, if a pair of parcels owned by the town and South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. are sold to developers as proposed.

Town leaders want to sell five acres with a dam needing more than $100,000 in repairs after concluding Barr Pond is of no use to the community of 18,000 residents.

SCE&G is selling the adjoining 11.5-acre site on which club facilities sit to developers who already own 180 acres on the pond’s north side.

Club members are looking at buying their longtime home or moving elsewhere, but don’t know if any plan is affordable.

“We’ve put a lot of investment, a lot of sweat equity, over the years into our current property,” Jowers said. “We’re trying to figure out the right step.”

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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