FLORENCE, S.C. – It’s been a busy few years for the city of Florence Recreation Department, and things won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
There are several key projects waiting in the wings, but one that has already begun is the addition of a pavilion at the Florence Soccer Complex at 3701 W. Palmetto St.
The Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation approved the construction of the $2.2 million addition, and construction began in early March.
The new pavilion provides a centralized location for check-ins during tournaments as well as meeting spaces and restrooms. The two-story facility will feature covered areas to view the game action on the first floor as well as a view deck on the second floor.
“It is first and foremost for our local Florence soccer recreation teams to play,” said city of Florence recreation division manager Darlene Buchanan. “It is an expectation that we will also bring in tournaments. A lot of folks think that just means soccer tournaments, but there are so many other things we can do out there and plan to do.”
The addition was a necessary add-on to potentially bring in bigger events, Buchanan added.
“We haven’t been aggressive in recruiting those just yet, because we didn’t have a centralized facility, and we really didn’t have restrooms,” she said. “It’s kind of hard to attract some of those big tournaments (because of that), and some of them actually require those things.”
The construction is on schedule, and Buchanan said optimistically the new pavilion could be done by the middle of January, weather permitting.
“Now that we know that we’re on target for the building, we can be a little more aggressive in bidding on tournament packages, since we know we will have this in place,” she said. “So we’re very excited about that.”
The department is also getting close to finalizing a design for a new track/baseball complex beside the Dr. Eddie Floyd Florence Tennis Center at 1300 Jennie O’Bryan Ave. off of North Cashua Drive.
“All of our programs now have a designated home, meaning they each have their own space,” Buchanan said. “The only thing that we were lacking was our track and field program. We have 300-plus children involved in our program, and we were having to use facilities that did not belong to the city of Florence. That would cause us sometimes to have to get in line for the use of that facility, and rightfully so.
“Having our own facility moving forward would mean that we would be the priority, and our children would have a place to practice and have meets whenever we desired, and that was certainly something that was needed.”
Once the design is finalized, the rec department will be able to go to bid, but an exact timeline is still up in the air at moment, she said.
“We know we will need restrooms, and we’d love to have some green space,” Buchanan said. “There’s a great desire beyond the track to have something for our baseball program. We would love to see the addition of some baseball field at that very same facility.
“We are in the planning stage for that as well.”
Two new community centers are also nearing completion, with an eye on even more upgrades in the coming years – including the Freedom Florence complex.
The facility is nearly 30 years old, and Buchanan said plans are in the beginning stages of making some improvements there as well.
“We do hope with this money that we have available that we’ll be able to give Freedom Florence a facelift,” she said. “We do have ideas on things that we’d like to do and some upgrades we’d like to do there. We’re working with a team now that’s master-planning a lot of things for us, and Freedom Florence is one of those things.”
The recently constructed Pearl Moore Gymnasium on Barnes Street houses the local youth and adult basketball programs as well as indoor pickleball. The facility housed its first outside tournament in late March with AAU and travel basketball tournaments on the docket as well, along with upcoming volleyball clinics.