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'Field of dreams.' York County's newest sports park opens after decades in the making

The Herald (Rock Hill, SC) logo The Herald (Rock Hill, SC) 10/31/2020 John Marks and Tracy Kimball, The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)

York County, SC

If Perry Johnston sounds a little cinematic in his description, it’s worth noting just how long he’s waited for York County’s newest park to open.

“This has truly been a field of dreams for me,” the former York County Councilman said.

The 32-acre park, $13.5 million Field Day Park in Lake Wylie is the culmination of decades of work.

Johnston, who grew up playing baseball in the ‘60s, said there were no fields in the area. When he became a county councilman in 2005, he wanted to change that.

“I knew then I wanted to start my work on trying to find a facility like this,” Johnston said.

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On Saturday, the park that Lake Wylie area taxpayers built will open for play at 9 a.m. Saturday at 1101 Field Day Lane in Paddler’s Cove subdivision. Trick or treating is from 1-3 p.m.

“It’s pretty emotional when we come out here,” said Tom Smith, a former county councilman who continued Johnston’s work to build a park at Lake Wylie. “We’re all parents and our kids not having a place to go, play ball, that’s what started this thing.”

Fields at Field Day Park

Field Day Park opens with three baseball or softball fields with synthetic infields and sod outfields.

Park superintendent Jason Ratterree said the turf infield baseball or softball fields are the first of their kind in York County.

It also has three synthetic multipurpose fields marked for multiple sports, including soccer, lacrosse, rugby and flag football, and a scorer’s tower.

Another first in York County are the dedicated public pickleball courts, organizers said. There are six pickleball courts, which is similar to tennis but on a smaller court.

A playground, two picnic shelters and walking trails round out the facility.

A community building for concessions and restrooms has a kitchen that can be rented out for gatherings. Doors open with a view of the multipurpose fields to watch games.

“It’s not just a park to accommodate kids and it’s not just one to accommodate adults,” Ratterree said.

Building a park

More than a decade ago, 50 acres in the Crowders Creek area was donated by Crescent Resources to York County as part of a massive land rezoning.

Lake Wylie Athletic Association officials envisioned a public park there.

“This is what we needed,” said Ron Domurat, a coach, commissioner and administrator for the youth organization that serves more than 1,500 children.

To pay for the estimated $9.45 million project, the county chipped in $2.45 million in hospitality tax revenue, a tax on prepared food and drink in unincorporated parts of the county like Lake Wylie that pays for tourism projects. York County does not have a recreation department.

Lake Wylie residents had to agree to pay for the rest by creating a new recreation tax district and passed a voter referendum four years ago. Taxpayers in the Lake Wylie area pay $20 per $100,000 in value for homeowners, and $30 per $100,000 for businesses and rentals, The Herald previously reported.

Organizers of Field Day Park say it will help improve the community they love.

“It’s really going to be a pinnacle for this area,” Johnston said.

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©2020 The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)

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