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Groundbreaking Discovery Center

Walterboro’s latest incoming attraction is about to get underway.

Officials with the City of Walterboro recently broke ground on the Walterboro Wildlife Discovery Center. The ground-breaking was held during a special ceremony on Thursday, June 7th at 11 a.m. Walterboro City Council members, Mayor Bill Young, city managers and a medley of area leaders were on site for the ground-breaking event.

The new Discovery Center will be built at 100 S. Jefferies Boulevard in Walterboro, which is located at the intersection of Hampton Street and Jefferies Boulevard across from the Colleton County Courthouse.

The facility will feature live animals and static (non-live) animals, along with educational information on each of the native species of plants and animals that call Walterboro home.

Moreover, the center will act as a headquarters for the city’s Wildlife Sanctuary, which is formerly called the Great Swamp Sanctuary. This sanctuary is an 800-plus-acre natural hardwood swamp.

For the past decade, city leaders have cultivated the swamp into a designed attraction filled with boardwalks, sidewalks and walking trails. The sanctuary also features historical markers along its route.

The new Discovery Center will be the official headquarters to this attraction. In addition to animals and information, the building will also boast an outdoor amphitheater and a retail area.

According to city leaders, this amphitheater will be used for multiple entertainment sources for the city, including the annual Rice Festival.

The site will also feature its own parking: since city leaders have said they hope this center will attract schools from across the region, the parking lot will boast space for compact cars and for school buses and tourist buses.

Prior to the actual ground-breaking last week, Walterboro City Council gave its ok earlier this year for the city’s managers to begin contract negotiations with IP Builders, Inc., the local company who won the lowest bid to do actual construction on the center.

The actual Discovery Center is going to be built on the grounds of the former county parking lot. Walterboro City Council has already voted to buy that land from the county for construction. A part of these grounds will also serve as a parking lot for the incoming center.

In addition to city council recently approving IP Builders, Inc. as the lowest bidder to build the center, council also gave first reading to a new ordinance that will use a maximum of $2.5 million in the city’s Hospitality and Accomodations Fee Revenue Bonds to help build the center.

As a part of the building process, council has pledged to reimburse the city for any tax dollars (out-of-pocket expenses) that might be used to build the Discovery Center before these bonds can be issued.

The center is being built with a combination of grant funds, city funding and tourism dollars.

Heather Walters (1327 Posts)