Op Ed: New Pawleys Island recreation center is more than gym space

  • Tuesday, June 11, 2013

By Beth Goodale

When Georgetown County opened the doors at the new Waccamaw Regional Recreation Center to the public for the first time back in April, the crowd that passed over the threshold was a good indicator of what was to come.

Dozens of people turned out for the ribbon cutting, all smiling and thrilled to see the facility — long sought and much needed — finally complete. They were black, white, young, old, rich, poor and virtually everything in between. As much as the facility itself was a dream for residents of the Pawleys Island area, and the Parkersville community in particular, this was a dream for Georgetown County.

County officials wanted the facility to be more than gym and program space (though that’s certainly of great importance too). We wanted it to be a true community center, something else the Pawleys Island area has lacked.

So far, the center hits the mark. Day after day we see all types of people walk through those doors. Adults come in during the mornings to utilize the free indoor walking track and throughout the day to exercise on the equipment in our fitness center. During the afternoons, the sounds of laughter echo throughout the space as kids use the gym for a variety of sports including basketball, volleyball, pickle ball and shuffleboard (also free). They cede the court to the adults in the evenings. Our program rooms are filled daily by senior citizens who participate in our congregate program, coming in to enjoy each other’s company, participate in a range of activities and share lunch together. During the first week of June, about 35 Pawleys Island area residents gathered at the center for a hurricane preparedness workshop.

The opening of a rock climbing wall in the center on June 10 and the continual addition of programs and classes including Zumba, yoga, line dancing and more should bring in an even wider variety of people.

With its location in the Parkersville community, the facility is almost dead center in the middle of the Waccamaw Neck. Neighborhood kids can easily walk or bike over, and we see a number of adults walk over as well. But the center is also a relatively short drive for those in the southern part of the Pawleys Island area and up into Murrells Inlet. We’d have been hard pressed to find a more centrally located spot for this facility, as this location is truly the heart of the Waccamaw Neck.

This is the first county-owned gym facility on the Waccamaw Neck and that’s certainly monumental. It allows us to significantly expand our programs in that area for all age groups. That, again, is something that has been needed for a very long time. But we believe it’s even more important that this is also among the first truly regional facilities for the Waccamaw Neck. The only other might be the Waccamaw branch of the library.

The Waccamaw Regional Recreation Center offers a place where communities within the Waccamaw region can come together and everyone, regardless of their socio-economic level, has access to an indoor recreation facility. Even for those features at the center that have an associated fee, such as the rock climbing wall and fitness center, we try to keep the cost low so they can be enjoyed by all.

We’re so excited that we were finally able to make this vision a reality through the county’s Capital Improvement Plan and we’re grateful to the Pawleys Island Civic Club and those residents who worked with us to make this facility possible. But we’re not through. We’ll continue to work to make this facility a valuable asset for as many people in the Waccamaw region as we can. We’ll continue adding new programs and we welcome community input. We’d love to hear from individuals what they would like to see offered at the center, and we’re constantly looking for instructors who would like to help us expand our programming. We’re open to everything from niche sports to chess.

If you haven’t been to the center yet, please drop in. We’d love to show you what it has to offer. You can also visit our website and Facebook page to learn more about operating hours, current programs and our other facilities around the county. This center was a major accomplishment in our Capital Improvement Plan, but we’ve got so much more in the works!

Beth Goodale is director of the Georgetown County Parks and Recreation Department.

Opinions that appear on this page in Letters to the Editor or in columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.

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