CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — Conway City Council voted on Tuesday to approve a task force to develop and improve the former Whittemore Elementary School property.
The task force will be made up of various community members who will decide what the property could eventually become.
“We are really looking forward to having our entire community involved in this process,” said Cheryl Moore Adamson, the president of the Whittemore Racepath Historical Society. “So, there will be a few other people from different segments of the community who have a broader view and that we welcome.”
The former Whittemore Elementary School property is owned by the city of Conway. Part of it was damaged in March in a fire.
Conway City Council and community members no longer want the property to sit unused, so Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy started a task force.
Blain-Bellamy said she thinks the task force should include 11 people — two staff and two council members, an unbiased yet interested citizen, a banker and members from different organizations like the Whittemore Racepath Historical Society.
Adamson said she remembers when the school was a place for the community to come together.
“It was the hub of our lives,” Adamson said. “We did everything there, from having our piano recitals, to having our mayday play days, to even getting our polio vaccine in that site. So, it really served multipurpose.”
Many parents and their children from the Conway community attended Tuesday’s meeting. One parent said the property should be used for sporting activities since there’s not enough fields.
“Out there at the rec fields for football and soccer season, you can’t get your car in the their sideways, let alone actually walk on the field,” one parent said.
Adamson disagrees, saying not all kids are interested in sports. She thinks the property should be used for STEM and art programs to cater to all children.
“Theatre, dance, there are many families in our community who cannot afford to put their children in dance for 14 years,” Adamson said. “And those children’s needs need to be met as well.”
Blain-Bellamy proposed 180 days for the task force to come up with a solution, but Adamson thinks it can be done much quicker.
“We’ve been working on this issue for over two years, and I think with the right people gathered to put their heads together, with the proper resources, we could have something within 30 to 45 days,” Adamson said.
Council will decide exact members, a meeting start date and what goals they want outlined in their next executive session on Sept. 18.
Adrianna Lawrence is a multimedia journalist at News13. Adrianna is originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and joined the News13 team in June 2023 after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in May 2023. Keep up with Adrianna on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also read more of her work, here.