Originally created 07/11/97

Officials seek to replace flea market for memorial park



BURNETTOWN - This summer may be the last one for the Bath flea market on the median along S.C. Highway 421 between Anthony Drive and Henderson Street in Horse Creek Valley.

Plans are to replace it with Veterans Memorial Park, to be built through the joint effort of the Burnettown City Council and the Midland Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The first step in that direction was taken this week when the Aiken County Council Development Committee agreed to an ordinance formally deeding the land to Burnettown. The ordinance declaring the median surplus property and donating it to Burnettown will be on the agenda at the Aiken County Council meeting on Tuesday.

Although the narrow strip of land is located in an area popularly known as Bath, it now lies within the corporate limits of Burnettown on land once owned by Bath Mill but now county property. For years, the area has served as an informal flea market where produce dealers, crafters, and yard sellers gathered.

That the tree-lined median between the four-lane highway and Maple Street is to become a park comes as no surprise to produce dealers, Lucy and David Godwin.

"It would be a perfect place for a park and I've wondered why somebody didn't turn it into one before now," Mr. Godwin said.

"It's a good spot for dealers, too," Mrs. Godwin said. "It's got easy access down Anthony Drive and from Maple Street."

The Godwins were philosophic about their displacement, though.

"We'll just find somewhere else to set up," Mr. Godwin said.

Burnettown Mayor Hector Rodrigues said Burnettown has applied for a Highway Beautification grant from the S.C. Department of Transportation. Additional funds for the park will be raised through the sale and planting of trees as memorials. Area veterans organizations will also be invited to join the effort which he expects to get underway in early 1998.

"Look around this valley and you will see no memorial or monument to our veterans. At the end of the park facing Anthony Drive, we want to put a memorial encircled by flags. The trees, picnic tables, and benches will stretch down all the way to Henderson," he said.

"But first we have to complete work on our children's park," Mr. Rodriguez said.

Work is set to begin on land preparation for the children's park tomorrow. Plans for the park were approved Thursday night at the Burnettown Council meeting and the October 26 completion date is still on target, Mr. Rodriquez said.

Still, he is already making plans for the town's second major park and expects it to be completed by this time next summer.

But for now, the dealers on the strip can continue to set up for business.

"We set up every Tuesday and Thursday," Mr. Godwin said. "It's a very good spot."