Leisure & Learning

What's New 2018

Columbia County Performing Arts CenterQuality of life amenities are essential to good health, and a groundbreaking ceremony for the Performing Arts Center was held February 28. The building will include seating for about 2,100 people, a main floor, two balcony areas with box seats, a concessions area and an orchestra pit that has the capacity to be lowered below the floor to accommodate extra seating.

“It’s a two-year project,” says Strickland. “It’s important to get the foundation right. Right now it doesn’t look like there’s a whole lot going on.”

Enopion Theatre Company has a new performing space called The Ivory Box Theatre on Commercial Court across from the Martinez post office. 

By the end of September, the county expected to award bids for the construction of four new parks -  Lakeside, Grovetown, the Patriots Park expansion and The Plaza, which will feature a farmers’ market and passive recreational space that can double as overflow parking for the PAC.

North Harlem Elementary School“We’ve spent the year continuing the planning phase of all four parks,” says John Luton, the county Community & Leisure Services division director. “We hope construction on all four will begin by the end of the year. We estimate a 12-month or less buildout on all four of them.” 

He says construction at Patriots Park, which could begin in October, will be the first park project to get underway.

County officials expected to award a bid for construction on the Euchee Creek Greenway Trail by the end of September. The multi-use trail ultimately will run from the Savannah River to the north to the city of Grovetown to the south. The greenway will include a series of off-street bikeways, walkways and trails that will connect neighborhoods and other community destinations. 

Columbia TheatrePlans have been reviewed for the Grovetown branch of the Columbia County library system, and bids to construction the facility, which will be built next to City Hall on East Robinson Avenue, are expected to go out before the end of the year.

The city of Grovetown also has received a state grant to use, along with matching funds, for the installation of about $150,000 worth of new playground equipment at Goodale Park this fall.

The city also has plans to film 45- to 60-second videos that focus on quality of life amenities in Grovetown and post them on its website.

In Harlem the design work for the renovation of Columbia Theatre has been completed, and it was expected to go out for bids in September. “We hope construction will begin before the end of 2018 and finish by May 2019,” says Cook. “That project is going to do a lot for our downtown area. 

The building of more than 4,000 square feet will bricked on both sides, and the parking lot will be resurfaced and landscaped. The theater will include a visitors’ center in the front and a small theater in the back. The Oliver Hardy Museum will occupy the middle portion of the building. 

“The theater will hold 60 to 70 people, and we will show old Laurel and Hardy films daily,” Cook says. “We will get to a point where we open on weekends to show newer movies.”

In the second phase of the renovation project, Cook says, an outdoor stage, which could be attached or detached from the building, will be constructed.

“When the theater building is renovated, it will be the hub of the Oliver Hardy Festival,” says Cook. 

With its new amenities, the city – which attracts more than 30,000 people to the annual Oliver Hardy Festival – has plans to promote Harlem as a tourist destination to people that have moved to the area recently. “Tourists already live here,” Cook says. “There are 90,000 people that live within 10 miles of Harlem. That is our niche.”

Construction continues on the new North Harlem Elementary School building, which is scheduled to open for the 2019-20 academic year. The School for Arts-Infused Learning added seventh grade to its student body this year, and construction plans for a middle school building are in the zoning and permitting process.

“Currently, we are at maximum capacity in our building,” says Kristy Zgol, the SAIL superintendent. “We have been exploring multiple options for our future facility needs.”