Greenwood County Council appears prepared to make a decision on the fate of the Greenwood Civic Center. During last Tuesday’s administration and finance committee meeting, discussion among council seemed to point to the demolition of the once thriving facility.
The emotionally charged topic came up during discussion surrounding a facilities needs assessment for the county. The assessment began as a suggestion by the civic center committee. Council then added all existing buildings to the assessment, which ran the estimated cost up to about $60,000. Council was reluctant to pay that much money for the assessment, mostly due to the fact that there are county staff members with the same qualifications as the consultants who are capable of performing most of the assessment. County manager Toby Chappell said he felt confident that county staff could handle the majority of the assessment, but some consulting would be required for certain skill sets not possessed by county staff which would drastically reduce the cost of the assessment.
“I plan, with the attorney’s guidance, bring a motion at our next meeting that we demolish the civic center,” Councilman Chuck Moates, who has been an advocate of tearing down the building since discussions were resumed last year, said.
County special projects manager Rossie Corwon told council she believed the intent of the civic center committee was for the county to assess future needs for space and determine if the civic center could meet any of those needs and, if not, then tear the facility down. Corwron noted that the committee asked the county to consider talking with department heads to see I they felt the civic center could be useful for their space needs.
“I’ve been (on Council) for 25 years trying to figure that out,” Councilman Gonza Bryant said of projecting space needs for the county. “I think the usage of the civic center has expired.”
Council chairman Mark Allison said it did not appear there were any county departments jumping at the chance to make use of the civic center and felt that repurposing the facility would incur greater cost than building a new facility.
“One thing I am familiar with is construction,” Allison said. “It’s hard to take a building that was built for that purpose and renovate it retrofit it to be something else without it costing more money than if you pushed it down and started over. I think we know the answer.”
Councilwoman Edith Childs said she has had a number of conversations with constituents who questioned why council was not taking any action on the issue and let her know that a civic center was not something they wanted.
The issue will be on the agenda for council’s regular meeting on July 15. That meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the American Veterans Auditorium at the Greenwood County Library. A vote on the fate of the Civic center is expected at during the meeting. Prior to the meeting, Chappell will again ask all county departments if the departments could use the space to meet current or future facility needs.