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Re-open for business

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By Sharon Furr

Phil Gaines opened the morning’s ribbon cutting events with a great big thank you to the Lutz Foundation. 

"The Lutz Foundation has been a tremendous partner at Chester State Park. Its support has made the park a better place for all our visitors and even had an impact on bringing more visitors to Chester County."

Jayne Scarborough, executive director of  the Olde English District Tourism Commission,took part in the mornings events as well, and as she addressed the group of campers and visitors, you could tell all of this was very dear to her and that she wasn’t just cutting a ribbon.

 “Chester State Park is near and dear to my heart. It was one of the first state parks I visited when I started working for the Olde English District Tourism Commission 25 years ago. We've introduced our grandchildren to this park, which they love.  I have friends from Rock Hill who come here to kayak and camp- it's their favorite state park,” she said.

Over the years, Scarborough said she has watched the park grow from a local spot that drew walkers to a regional attraction with something to offer everyone.

“I mentioned that this was one of the first parks I visited 25 years ago. Back then Chester State Park was a community park with a few campers, but mostly folks from the area came here to walk. Now with disc golf, the fishing pier, revitalized campground and other activities, it is a destination park. As one of the 11 tourism regions in SC, the Olde English District Tourism Commission is excited to promote the many offerings here,” she said.

Scarborough noted that each addition means more visitors and more visitors mean greater economic impact. Gaines pointed out that the campers who visit pay accommodations tax and that goes right back into Chester County.

Past gifts to the park from the Lutz Foundation include:

• $25,000 for playground equipment

• $35,000 for Disc golf

• $50,000 for a pier/walkway

• $50,000 for campground renovations - The campground project upgraded the electrical (to 50 amp) and water. Picnic tables and pads - Going to 50 amp means you can handle bigger RVs

On top of the Lutz Foundation donations, Park Manager David Baker and his staff put in volunteer hours as well as work hours, staff from other state parks pitch in and the SC Parks, Recreation and Tourism Commission all contribute to the vision that has turned Chester State Park into a place where visitors can't wait to come.