As we wind down another year — the fourth — since the Greenwood County Civic Center was shuttered, a committee comprised of county residents from various backgrounds is gearing up in an effort to help determine the best use of the property moving forward.
Moving forward is precisely what needs to be done. And not at what might be considered a polite southern pace.
We are not opposed to the committee approach to what can best be labeled as the county's albatross. While it's understandable some residents simply think Council should decide the property's fate, there exist a variety of views on what that fate could or should be. A public hearing on the matter earlier this year brought only about a dozen residents out to share their opinions, with most indicating they want to see a similar facility in operation. A minority view expressed is the site should be converted into a more comprehensive recreation complex.
That only a handful showed up at a public meeting is no surprise, nor is it a true barometer of whether the public actually even cares.
What we do know, however, is that the committee, made up of appointments from the various council districts, and County Council itself do care about the future of the site and how it might best be utilized or repurposed to serve the county in the future.
We also hope and believe the committee will undergo a comprehensive study of the project. Its members know their job is not to simply toss a few possible uses for the property on the table and cast votes. They will examine not only prospective uses, but also the costs associated with those uses. And, we trust, they'll perform something akin to a market analysis to determine what use might provide the most return on investment. For example, simply suggesting a civic center-like facility is a good idea is not enough. Will it be sufficiently used? Will it, unlike its predecessor, be at least a break-even proposition?
Eventually the committee will have something concrete for County Council to consider. In fact, it will not be a surprise if the committee puts forth a couple of solid suggestions for Council to consider, which Council would then put before the voters for a final decision.
However the matter is handled, whether Council or voters have the final say, our hope is that 2014 (the earlier the better) will be the year a decision is reached.