One of the most important items on the election ballot Tuesday is the continuation of the Capital Project Sales Tax. Since the 1% sales tax was implemented in Newberry County in the 1998 election, the results have been quite remarkable.
The 1998 ballot main project was upgrading the Newberry County Memorial Hospital, which was at a crossroads and needed updating. Voters passed the CPST, sending money to renovate the emergency room. That upgrade led to NCMH gaining positive momentum and a series of improvements ever since. NCMH is now an award-winning hospital with 15 awards just in the last year.
The 2004 renewal of CPST led to the update of numerous, outdated volunteer fire departments, a new county library and many other projects. The 2010 CPST approval led to our beautiful and much-used Piedmont Tech and numerous other projects.
The 2016 CPST committee has put together an excellent list of projects for the ballot Tuesday. The main project is a new radio communications system for our outstanding first responders in Newberry County. Their current radio system is outdated and inadequate.
Tuesday’s list also includes a new county museum, which many people are excited about, and will be located at the old library/old post office on Friend St. In addition to adults enjoying the museum, I recently spoke to a group of school students about local civics and the CPST, and they seemed very interested in the prospect of a new county museum and learning more about the county’s history.
There are many other good projects on the 2016 list, including important projects in Little Mountain, Pomaria, Prosperity, Silverstreet and Whitmire and at the Newberry Opera House.
The City of Newberry’s project is a new recreational complex. While the city has many neighborhood parks, Newberry County doesn’t have a recreational complex with multiple features, which most communities around the state have gone to. In addition, many communities have made major investments in parks in recent years and now far surpass us. This includes our neighboring communities, such as Irmo-Chapin investing $21 million in their already good parks, Union with $6 million investment in Timken Park, Spartanburg with $17 million investment in Tyger River Park, and Simpsonville with $8 million at the very popular Heritage Park.
The city has an option to purchase 215 acres on the Hwy. #34 Bypass if the CPST passes. Plans call for two baseball/softball fields, two fields for soccer/football, a walking trail, and picnic shelters. There will also be a children’s water spray park, which are really popular and fun. Adjacent to the spray park will be a nice children’s playground that will be accessible for children with special needs. We’re excited about that.
In addition to the complex being a good place for children and adults to exercise and the complex hosting youth and adult sports leagues, it will also help with economic development. It will be an attractive amenity to show people that are considering moving to Newberry, and the complex will host tournaments that bring people to town for a weekend.
If the CPST passes, once built I look for the park to be a big hit. With 215 acres, Newberrians in the future can add to the park as they see fit. And like the other CPST projects since 1998 and the new ones on the 2016 ballot, it will be an asset for the Newberry community for years and generations to come.
Foster Senn is the mayor of Newberry.