Committee OKs design for community center at Memorial Park


Sumter's Historic Preservation Design Review Committee on Thursday approved the proposed design for a new community center to be at 110-112 N. Salem Ave. at Memorial Park, replacing the existing structure at that site, which was approved for demolition at the Aug. 24 meeting.

The new 2,300-square-foot facility will replace the nearly 4,000-square-foot existing building, only the front portion of which is used as the Hampton Park precinct's polling place for elections. The new building will incorporate a kitchen, restrooms and a large multipurpose open area with a porch wrapping around the entire structure. It was presented as more of an addition to the park's existing structures, turning its side to the street, than a street-facing residential structure, and the building will blend well with the gazebo and standalone restrooms in its materials and colors.

One resident of Park Avenue, Gerlies McCrea, raised the question of how changes to the existing parking lot would affect capacity. The Planning Commission's Helen Roodman explained that the number of available parking spaces would actually grow by 19, and Grady Locklear, the committee chairman, acknowledged that no parking lot would be sufficient to accommodate an event like the recent Fall For The Arts, during which cars were parked at Grace Baptist Church, in the empty lot at Liberty Street and Salem Avenue and along all the streets surrounding the park.

Roodman noted that the new community center would be the last project approved under Sumter's old Historic Preservation Design guidelines because new guidelines were adopted at the Sept. 19 Sumter City Council meeting.

After consideration of the community center, the committee heard a presentation from Hill Studios of Roanoke, Virginia, the firm that put together the new guidelines. Hill Studios' Katie Gutshall said the new guidelines are built on those adopted in 1996 and that the firm took steps to organize and illustrate with local examples the principles they set forth. The committee's R. Scott Bell complimented the firm on its presentation and thanked its representatives for creating a document that is clear and understandable by the general public.

The new design guidelines are available in electronic form at (33.3MB PDF).