Lexington outdoors club seeks home

tflach@thestate.comJuly 31, 2013 

— An outdoors club is seeking a new home after being forced from its longtime quarters on Barr Pond near Lexington so a new housing development can be built.

Members of the local chapter of the South Carolina Wildlife Federation hope to find a site to settle on soon.

“We’re not giving up,” former club president Ben Knight said. “We’re looking for a spot.”

The group is moving out from its headquarters of nearly 60 years, a setting that’s been an unofficial nature preserve on the outskirts of the steadily growing town of 18,000 residents.

“It’s sad to see something that was a treasure go away,” Knight said.

For now, the club’s 150 members gather at nearby First Baptist Church of Lexington while the search for a parcel of a few acres continues.

The new site doesn’t need a pond, but it must be large enough to allow addition of a small one in a private setting, Knight said.

A pond serves as an outdoor classroom for activities like fishing that club members offer youth and military veteran groups.

Those activities are shifting temporarily to Dreher Island State Recreation Area along the north shore of Lake Murray.

Club equipment and memorabilia already is stored in advance of the Saturday deadline for the club’s departure.

“We’ve already moved everything out,” club treasurer Wayne Jowers said.

The pond will be the centerpiece of a new neighborhood after Lexington town leaders and South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. sold parcels for the development.

Club members unsuccessfully challenged the town sale of the dam and five adjoining acres and were outbid in trying to buy the tract from the Cayce-based utility on which the group’s facility sits.

The 124-acre pond a mile west of Lexington was created as a source of hydropower a century ago, later becoming a back-up source of drinking water for the community until town leaders said it was no longer needed.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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