Originally created 08/31/97

Bill Baab: Wildwood public, not Columbia's



It's interesting to follow the continuing saga of to develop, or not develop, Wildwood Park on the Columbia County side of Keg Creek on Thurmond Lake.

I say let it alone for the simple reason is that it's not Columbia County's property to mess with.

Developers are overlooking the fact that the park is, in fact, public land bought and paid for by U.S. taxpayers. The county leases it from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which, as I see it, holds it in trust for the public.

It's not right to take it out of the public domain for private businesses (the proposed hotel, golf course) to profit by. Of course, that didn't stop South Carolina legislators from pressuring the state wildlife agency and the Corps into relinquishing control of a wildlife management area in McCormick County.

That area is now called Savannah Lakes Village.

Mrs. Paige Gavalas, in a letter to The Chronicle editor a few weeks ago, pointed out that the development could result in doubling or tripling the number of recreational boaters in the Keg Creek area. Check out that area on weekends and holidays and it's just chaos. Multiply by 3 or more and just imagine the scene.

There's enough development around Thurmond Lake's shoreline, in the opinion of many of us who have been boating and fishing on the lake for many years. The beauty of Thurmond is a fisherman or boater having the ability to find areas where he can be by himself.

I don't think the public-at-large is interested in turning Thurmond into another Lake Lanier, or Lake Murray, with boat docks jutting into every cove. That's already the case now, with coves off Grays and other creeks occupied by docks where a few years ago none existed.

I don't think the idea of developing an existing marina with amenities like a hotel would be opposed, but let's keep Wildwood wild.