Creating a park that doubles as the home for the nationally known Okra Strut could be a $1 million proposition for Irmo.
Buying and developing either of the two sites under consideration could cost at least $1.1 million and rise to $1.4 million, consultants estimate in reports to town leaders.
Festival organizers hope Town Council tonight will buy one of two sites under consideration.
Those estimates match warnings from Mayor Hardy King, who says the project may be burdensome for the community of 11,000 residents.
But supporters say giving the 41-year-old festival a permanent home can be accomplished more cheaply by omitting many features suggested, such as a dog play area.
“These (estimates) are the max, with many things we aren’t interested in,” Councilman Barry A. Walker Sr. said. “We’ll get it done for much less.”
Civic groups and festival organizers will be asked to help outfit the park to hold down Town Hall’s share, he said.
The studies by separate consultants looked at making a 14.3-acre parcel on Eastview Drive or a 4.8-acre tract on Lake Murray Boulevard suitable for the gathering.
For King, the estimates are more ammunition for his claim that putting on the two-day fall festival has become too expensive. He wants the festival, that organizers say sometimes attracts crowds of up to 50,000, to scale back.
“We can downsize it and put it on some streets and parking lots,” he said.
The festival’s future is an annual source of friction.
Complaints about noise and traffic force the gathering to move regularly. but available sites are shrinking.
King also is upset that festival organizers want to rehire Susan Hoots — wife of Councilman Harvey Hoots — as festival manager.
That idea “smacks of cronyism,” he said.
Hoots. a longtime volunteer, oversaw the gathering from 1999-2004. Harvey Hoots, a veteran councilman, has excused himself from the decision on the hiring but favors buying a site for the festival.