Derrick Lindsay went to see the Cubs in Carroll Park. He remembers where the neighborhood pool was. Long before she became a member of Rock Hill City Council, Lindsay was a child in the park not yet old enough to attend a basketball game with the older children.

So he looked.

Lindsay isn’t too young to play anymore. Still, he stood there Thursday, watching again.

“We spent a lot of time in this park growing up,” the city councilor said. “So I would love to see the renovations. I’m excited about it. And that will bring new life to the park.

More than 100 volunteers gathered Thursday for the first stages of what will represent more than $ 250,000 in improvements to Carroll Park. Volunteers cleaned up the bloom and applied mulch. Some have assembled new bleachers. Others laid down seeds, sod or erosion control. At least two volunteers repainted the main park panel.

“For the community this is really going to have an impact,” said Republic Services CEO Glenn Kavanagh. “They do a lot here, and being able to come here and now to make better use of the space is going to be rewarding for everyone involved.”

Republic Services has partnered with York County Habitat for Humanity on renovations to the park and for half a dozen neighboring homes on Carroll, Cornelius and Robinson streets, as well as Crawford Road. A national neighborhood grant through the company invested $ 160,000 in local work. The city has partnered up as a partner with an additional $ 109,000 in matching money.

Volunteers cleaned, mulched, assembled and painted the 11-acre park on Simrill Street, a hub of activity in the Crawford Road neighborhood. Small free libraries have been built. Porch steps were repaired on houses.

Over the next few months, workers will set up a covered picnic shelter with seating, grids, two new basketball hoops, and a multi-purpose football and soccer goal. A zip line will be added. The swings will be replaced and the basketball courts will resurface.

According to the US Census Bureau, approximately 2,700 people live in the census tract that contains Carroll Park. A third of these people live below the poverty line. Half of residents under the age of 18 do. The census tract has 86% black residents, with nearly 36% of that population below the poverty line.

For Habitat Executive Director Tim Veeck, the park project is moving away from typical house construction or neighborhood renovation. This is the first project of such a scale that his group is carrying out.

“A lot of our work, we use parks as a gathering place when we work in neighborhoods,” said Veeck.

A multi-year partnership with the owners of the Crawford Road area has led to discussions about the park.

“It was mentioned about two years ago that Carroll Park was a very important place for the community,” said Veeck. “In terms of just a place for social gatherings and connection. There was just a lot of history for the people here.

On a given fall weekday evening, it’s common to have 75 or 100 kids practicing soccer, Veeck said. Lindsay still remembers how he fell in love with basketball at the park. There is also a baseball field.

“Carroll Park is one of the gems and assets of this community that people are very proud of,” said Veeck.

Kavanagh said the most rewarding part of the ongoing work came when he learned there had been discussions and a desire for improvement. His company has employees who live and work in the area, which made the park worth it for around 150 volunteers on Thursday.

“The project just had every aspect of what we’re trying to accomplish here,” Kavanagh said. “Enter the neighborhoods. It is the park and the renovations of the house. It is our house.”

Although this is an unusual project for Habitat, it is part of the same mission of providing safe and reliable housing for people in order to create a better quality of life for them, said Veeck.

“The quality of their life is determined by the quality of the communities and neighborhoods in which they live,” said Veeck. “And we believe that everyone, no matter where you are from and what you look like, should have fair and equal access to great parks, great places to gather.”

Lindsay sees the project as a puzzle that falls into place. He fondly remembers his youth there. Memories made and time well spent with friends. He can only imagine how an improved park could serve even more families, for years to come.

“This is a great opportunity to revitalize this area, this park,” said Lindsay.

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John Marks graduated from Furman University in 2004 and joined the Herald in 2005. He covers community growth, municipalities, transportation and education primarily in York and Lancaster counties. The Fort Mill native has won dozens of South Carolina Press Association awards and multiple McClatchy President’s Awards for his media coverage in Fort Mill and Lake Wylie.
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