The Dorchester County Parks and Recreation Commission kicked started a new year of meetings by publicly introducing their newest member, Juan Santiago, to the audience during the evening of Jan. 24.
County Councilmember Rita May Ranck described Santiago as an upstanding citizen who has served his country for 26 years as a U.S. Air Force officer before being honorably discharged.
The new kid on the block is currently employed in the role of Utilities Division Chief at The Citadel.
"He has experience in engineering, construction, maintenance and repair facilities, policy implementation in safety and security," said Ranck about her new colleague who migrated to the South Carolina Lowcountry from Hawaii about 25 years ago.
To prepare for what lies ahead for him as a Parks & Rec Commission member, Santiago has read the team's entire masterplan, according to Ranck.
Santiago himself declined to speak to the crowd, as he was satisfied by the warm welcome extended to him by Ranck and company.
Toward the end of the session, Parks & Rec Commission member Wesley Donehue resigned from his post due to being absent from several recent meetings because of his obligations in Washington D.C. County Councilmember and Parks & Rec Commission Chair Jay Byars thanked his outgoing cohort for his remarkable contributions over the years.
Parks & Rec Commission Director Austin Zuniga, on the other hand, treated the governing body to numerous slides detailing ongoing and future park projects. He touched on the following areas:
Davis-Bailey Park- Staff and administration are collaborating on securing funding for a dog park.
Ashley River Park- New wayfinding signage has been installed and new sound-system speakers have been added to the pavilion area.
Rosebrock Park- Staff performed trail work and provided improved paneling on wooden walkways. Native and invasive plant species were recently examined along the nature trail.
Texas Community Park- Efforts will made to discuss park uses once a Park Manager is brought aboard.
Pine Trace Natural Area- Work is underway with consultants to walk and map an 18-hole disc golf course on property grounds. There's also been an approved transfer of more than $2.5 million into the Pine Trace Project. A groundbreaking is slated for March 9, with 12-13 months of construction commencing in early May.
Swan Drive River Access- Zuniga informed that his agency is still in the permitting process with Stantec to build 20-parking space river access site. The elevation of docks has been raised a few inches to handle inclement weather.
Oakbrook Sports Complex- Parks & Rec has met the YMCA to see what their needs are. These include more usable daycare space that is more centralized. The area's recreational center will have a splash pad, a small playground, three baseball fields, as well as pickleball, basketball and volleyball courts.
Edisto Lakes Park- "Master-planning" work is in progress across 60 acres of land and 60 acres of water. This will entail passive access to Edisto River with no raised or motorized vehicle access; fishing on five ponds with docks and piers; a camping area; wetlands restoration opportunities, kayaking with possible lunch areas, interactive signs and educational walks and/or programs.