Community park could double in size

By Al Dozier

The Irmo Town Council is considering a land purchase that would double the size of the Community Park of Irmo.

But the town would have to pay out a lot of money.

The seller of the 10-acre tract adjacent to the popular park is asking $500,000.

The town has responded with a $450,000 offer.

But such a transaction would have to go through a 30-day  “due diligence” review, according to a decision made by the council during a special meeting on Oct. 27.

According to Mayor Barry Walker Sr., the “due diligence” process involves checking on various details of the property such as liens and title work. The town attorney would review any legal requirements in the purchase. Town officials would also take a close examination of the property and take soil samples.

Town Administrator Courtney Dennis is now reviewing all aspects of the land purchase, according to council members.

Councilman Kelly Busch called for the “due diligence” review during the special council meeting because he felt the council was moving too fast to spend too much money.

“They all wanted to pounce on it,” he said of his fellow council members.

Busch said he sought a special review that would make sure the town would get a return on such an investment.  He said the town needed a “game plan” before making such an investment.

While having some reservations, Councilman Erik Sickinger said he is very much in favor of acquiring the land.

“It offers a lot of opportunity for activities in an area a lot of people like,” Sickinger said.

While the price is a little over the market value, Sickinger said the acquisition would be a positive move for Irmo. The additional land would provide for more parking, athletic areas and additional uses for a park that is already very popular.

Councilwoman Kathy Condom also sees a positive benefit for the additional acreage, which could provide needed parking areas in a park that is very popular. She said the park is always busy and definitely could use more space. But Condom said she hasn’t made a final decision on the purchase.

Availability of funds recently allocated to Irmo through the American Rescue Plan could help sway the council to approve the project. The town is due to receive more than $4 million from the federal program providing assistance to aid communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The popular community park, located on Eastview Drive in the heart of Irmo, is the home of Irmo’s Okra Strut Festival.

Dedicated in May 2014, the park occupies a predominantly wooded 14-acre site and has a paved trail, playgrounds, a grassy area, a picnic shelter, restrooms, and the 500-seat Prisma Health Amphitheater. The park has two picnic shelters with BBQ grills, walking trails along with playgrounds and restrooms. It is a popular location for parties, family reunions or any special event.

Town officials said the seller currently lives in the lower part of the state.