Could Crystal Lake be operated as a public-private venture?

By Jim Hicks

Beaufort County is in the process of investigating the feasibility of using a public-private venture concept for the operation of the Crystal Lake Park. Public-private ventures are not new.  The reason Marines and sailors who are assigned to our local military bases have adequate housing available on the bases today is the result of a very successful public-private venture. The military provides the land on which the homes are built, the private company builds and maintains the homes and rents them to the Marines and sailors. It is a great example of the use of a successful win-win concept.

When Beaufort County finally managed to purchase the property around Crystal Lake, it had also acquired the 3,000-sq-foot building that served as the commercial facility for Butler Marine.  During the construction of the new McTeer Bridge, the facility was used as the headquarters of the contractor who was building the bridge. Beaufort County recently released a request for proposals from either an individual or business that would allow a private party or business to operate from the facility and in return the private business would operate and maintain the park as a joint venture with the county. The deadline for submission of proposals to the county as part of the project is November 14.

The use of a public-private venture to promote private contribution to the operation of a public park is a new and untested direction for Beaufort County. However, as our economy struggles to regain its momentum and our government is faced with declining revenue, perhaps it is time to try new things. At least a query to the private business community to determine if serious interest exists is in order.

The complete request for a proposal can be viewed at the Beaufort County website www.bcgov.net (purchasing department) and also at the Lady’s Island Business Professional Association’s website at www.libpa.org.

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