A larger-than-life sculpture molded by the hands of an artist with Sumter roots and an international reach will soon welcome motorists and pedestrians to Sumter's iconic and nationally unique park.
Grainger McKoy, an artist who creates sculptures …
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Grainger McKoy, an artist who creates sculptures and jewelry largely modeled after birds, has been working on his latest project, a 24-foot tower of birds upward in flight that will become the centerpiece of a new entrance to Swan Lake-Iris Gardens.
"This is a major project and will be an improvement to Swan Lake," Mayor Joe McElveen said Tuesday at a Sumter City Council meeting.
A six-month construction period beginning July 29 will close the drive-in entrance to the main parking lot on the Heath Gardens side of the park, which is where the visitor's center and playground are located. The park will remain open. Access will remain available through Garden Street and the Heath Pavilion, the crosswalk that connects the two sides over West Liberty Street and all parking across the street on the Bland Gardens side.
"It will be worth it," McElveen said.
Deron McCormick, city manager, said December's Fantasy of Lights is still planned to take place but with the inability to drive through the main parking lot until, as currently expected, the beginning of January.
When the project is complete, motorists will be able to enter the parking lot heading east on Liberty Street in a new right-hand turn lane. The entrance will feature brick paving for pedestrians, granite cobblestone paving for vehicles and expanded landscaping, all with McKoy's sculpture mounted in a fountain in the center.
City Council voted 5-0 on Tuesday - Councilman David Merchant was absent, and Councilwoman Ione Dwyer attended the meeting but had not yet arrived - to award the project to Hood Construction Co. for $2,198,221. The Columbia-based company completed construction on the new Public Safety Complex in May 2018, which now houses headquarters for the Sumter Police Department and Sumter Fire Department on North Lafayette Drive.
According to city documents, two other companies also submitted bid proposals for the project.
McCormick said the project is being paid for by a combination of private and state money and the city's Hospitality Fund.
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