Whether Scotland County gets a new indoor recreation center could depend on you.
An effort — spearheaded by recreation officials, Scotland Health Care and the city of Laurinburg — will use a planning study to help determine if such a center is needed.
The Laurinburg City Council voted last week to provide $8,833.33 for the study. That would fund a third of the $26,500 study. The Scotland County Recreation Foundation, Inc. and Scotland Health Care System have already pledged to allocate the rest of the study’s expense.
Officials say the study will help determine several points such as: community needs; program elements; location and costs.
The study will take six-to-nine months and involve telephone surveying of county residents.
“The study will help us determine whether locals would prefer a gym, a recreation facility, a civic center, or other facilities,” said County Manager Kevin Patterson.
The study is also designed to include a public forum element, during which county residents will be invited to express their opinions regarding a potential facility.
Several groups have attempted to advance the idea of a new recreation facility in Laurinburg in the past, said Becca Hughes, Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce chairperson, but they have each had different ideas about what the facility should be.
“With this study, we will learn first whether or not locals are interested in a facility at all, and we will also learn what form the facility will take, if they do feel there is a need for one.”
Hughes made it clear that plans for a recreational facility are in the earliest stages of planning, and that there is no timetable for construction.
“The only thing that has been agreed to is this study,” said Hughes.
Assuming there is an interest in the facility, said Hughes, the study would conclude with the presentation of several design proposals for the structure.
“The citizens of Laurinburg and Scotland County have discussed a recreation or community center, in some way, for about thirty years. This upcoming study gives everyone who wants a voice in the subject to have that voice hear in a focused way,” said Parks and Recreation Advisory Board Chairman Page Pratt.
While Pratt said it may be the case that the community is not interested in a new facility, he stated that he does believe “that there is a desire for a center, and I think this study will help refine what the community wants (from it).”
Pratt also hinted that the partnership of the city of Laurinburg, the Scotland Health Care System, the Parks and Recreation Foundation and the county could be ongoing.
“The cooperation of the city of Laurinburg, Scotland Health Care System and Parks and Recreation Foundation as well as the county was the key to getting this study started and perhaps the beginning of a partnership to bring a recreation center to the community.”