Over the course of the past four years, the Town has met with staff and elected leadership from the School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties to discuss the possibility of partnering with them to develop a plan for the property. In each case, this concept was received favorably and the Town was assured that we would have the opportunity to work together but that the timing for the discussion was not suitable. Unbeknownst to the Town, a committee of the Board recently met to discuss the school district owned property along Columbia Avenue. At this time the Town attempted to set up a meeting with representatives of the school board, however, the Town was informed that the property was being added to the school board agenda with the recommendation to sell the property.
The surprise and recent discussions by the Board to sell off the property to the highest bidder without a discussion with the Town on ways to partner for the greater good of the community was disappointing. Properties sold to the highest bidder can potentially develop in a manner inconsistent with the needs and desires of the local community and are often developed for short term profitability rather than long term sustainability. In order to fully realize the community’s vision for the property, leadership from the school district, the county and the Town would need to develop a public private partnership, create a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district as a funding source and explore the feasibility of the Town of Chapin performing arts center.
In order for the Town to invest funding into the research and development of the school owned property, we would need an assurance from the school district that the property would not be sold while the Town was conducting an evaluation and honor previous discussions to work with the Town to best utilize the property for the community. I urge my neighbors and surrounding community members to speak to their representatives about the need to collectively work together to explore the potential of the property. The Town seeks to see this property be utilized in the manner in which it was orginally intended nearly a century ago, as a gathering place for our community, and not to be developed for the financial interest of the limited few that are most able to profit from its development.
This property represents a singular chance for the school district, the county and the Town to partner in a way that will be mutually beneficial to all organizations and support the Chapin community. In that spirit, the Town has had discussions with the Chapin Library, the Crooked Creek Arts League, the Greater Chapin Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Chapin Theatre Company about future needs. The Town believes that through a coordinated development strategy of the property we can accomplish the collective goals of the community. All too often our large entities work independently in their individual silos rather than cooperatively in conjunction with one another. What one entity by itself could not do, partnerships make it possible. I am looking forward to developing this partnership in the best interest of the Chapin community.
David W. Knight
Mayor of Chapin