By Betsy Finklea
Former Dillon County Council District One Councilman Randy Goings appeared at the February meeting of the Dillon County Council to speak about the Gordon Park project.
Goings gave a history of what had taken place on the park since he was on council.
While Goings was on council, the county obtained the property. The county spent some money on the park, but the majority of what has been done at the park was done with Schafer Foundation money. When the park was dedicated, Senator Williams was at the park made a pledge to help fund a structure. Goings said to his knowledge Councilman James Campbell didn’t follow up with that during his term, but Councilman Jamal Campbell, who was in the audience on the day of the dedication, followed up with Senator Williams who remembered the pledge and secured $300,000 for the project. Goings said his concern is that nothing has been done.
Goings said he was there to find out what the hold up was. He questioned whether it was the area. He said there was not a councilman up there who didn’t have at least 30 percent black voters in their district and that this was one of the most-used parks by black people in the county. He said he can’t see for the life of him why this was being held up. He said it has been sat on for almost two years and nothing has been done. He said if it is the area, they need to look long and hard in their hearts because it could be construed as a “racist thing.”
At this point, Council Chairman Stevie Grice stopped Goings. He said it wasn’t a racist thing. He said pointing to some on council that they voted to put up a nice community center out there. Goings asked if they had the money. Grice said they had the money. He said they have had a lot of change in their administration. He said it was said that they didn’t know if $300,000 would cover it. He said there were some up there who voted against a community center. He said there’s one of them pointing out Councilman Jamal Campbell.
Councilman Jamal Campbell said he wanted to explain something. He said when he went to Senator Williams, he presented him a preliminary drawing showing the scope of “what we wanted to put there.”
Grice interrupted saying, “What he wanted, not what we wanted.”
Campbell said it was in his district and the park he grew up going to playing basketball. He said he grew up in that area and knows what goes on there and what’s needed in that area.
Senator Williams presented it and it was in the docket at the state level. He said it was itemized as to what it would cost to do it. He said some of this council decided that “no, we don’t want to put a commercial kitchen out there, we want to put a community center.”
He said Goings was a contractor and could understand that you can’t build a commercial kitchen for the same price as a community center.
He said the council took it on themselves to vote for a community center and when it was sent out for bids, there was no way to build a community center for $300,000. It was not going to happen. He said he had a contractor who did him a drawing for free.
Campbell said the project is not complete because there is a fight over where they are going to do a community center or a commercial kitchen. Campbell said the money is allocated for a commercial kitchen and not a community center.
Grice said he talked to Kent Williams and Williams said that he didn’t say anything about a commercial kitchen. He said Williams said he gave them the money for a project not to build a commercial kitchen. “Councilman Campbell wants a commercial kitchen, plain and simple. Nobody else,” said Grice.
“District One is not paying the bill. Dillon County is, and we all are Dillon County.”
“We want to build something nice for the park,” Grice said. Grice said they need to decide what that is. He said they won’t get a commercial kitchen for that either. He said they want to do something nice down there.
Goings said he felt they needed to move and move on it soon.
Grice said there was a recreation committee meeting on March 9th to work on this.
Campbell said the commercial kitchen can be built for that amount and to have the county attorney pull up the state docket. Grice said council votes on it regardless. There was further discussion. Grice said he lives closer to the park than Campbell. Goings said build something out there and get this done. Grice said he didn’t vote against the project at that park, but Campbell did and it was in the minutes and on record. Grice said they had to figure out what they had the money to do.
County Councilman Buzzy Finklea said they felt they had the money to do a nice community center.
Grice said their code enforcement said there was a great deal of liability with a commercial kitchen.
Grice said they want to put something out there.
Goings said don’t put something out there where it sits just 30 people. Grice asked, “What do you want to do? Seat none?” Goings said at least 70 people.
Grice said this is what they are going to figure out. “We don’t want to lose the money,” Grice said.
The matter is expected to be discussed at a future meeting of the council.
By Betsy Finklea