Richland County’s planned $20 million water park project has stalled, as contract negotiations with the front-running company recently “fell apart,” council chairman Torrey Rush said.
The Northeast Richland project, envisioned as a tourist attraction and among the largest water parks in South Carolina, will be re-advertised to bidders. Rush said the project will be open for bids for 30 days, and it could take the county about another 30 days afterward to negotiate with bidders.
The re-bidding process should be quicker, Rush said, than if the county had chosen to continue negotiations with the first company, which likely wouldn’t have picked back up until about September.
Rush said he hoped the setback in the contract process wouldn’t delay the opening of the park, which he said the county would like to see “as soon as possible” – hopefully in the next year.
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The park will be the first major project using the county’s hospitality tax funds.
Meanwhile, council gave initial approval Tuesday to spend more than $2 million in hospitality tax funds to purchase property associated with what is being called Project LM.
The county has not provided details about that project, though Rush said it is not related to a proposed Bluff Road sports complex, Rush said.
Council is moving forward, though, with exploring financing models for the proposed $16 million to $20 million “destination” sports complex, according to Councilman Kelvin Washington, whose district would host the project.
Vacant homes can’t opt out of waste pickup fee
Owners of vacant houses in Richland County will still have to pay for trash pickup, after County Council on Tuesday rejected a motion that would have allowed them to opt out of the service charge.
At the behest of Councilman Norman Jackson, a council committee last month had recommended council’s approval of a process for owners of vacant properties to be exempt from the $249 annual service charge for solid waste pickup. Jackson had argued it was unfair for people to pay for a service they don’t receive.
Before the full council on Tuesday, however, Councilman Bill Malinowski countered that people also pay taxes for schools, libraries and transportation projects they might not necessarily take advantage of – but that doesn’t mean they should be able to opt out of the tax, he said.
Other council members raised concerns about administrative and practical complications of allowing some residences to be exempt from the charge.
The motion failed 10-1, with Jackson the only council member voting in favor.