County’s first parks director ready for challenge

  • Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Leslie Cantu/Journal Scene Eric Davis will lead the county parks department starting Sept. 8.

Dorchester County’s first parks and recreation director has a big job ahead.

As director of a department of exactly one – himself – Eric Davis will set the course for the county’s parks, and that’s part of what attracted him to the job.

“I was enticed by the blank canvas,” he said.

Davis has worked as the assistant director for the town of Summerville’s parks and recreation department for just more than a year.

He and his wife, both College of Charleston graduates, were happy to return to the Lowcountry, he said, after living in the Upstate for five years.

He had worked as a project manager for Spartanburg County’s parks system, where he started an outdoor recreation program taking advantage of the area’s mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking and other opportunities.

His ultimate goal was to become the director of a parks department, but he never expected an opportunity so soon after beginning work in Summerville, he said.

Davis will start Sept. 8, and his first steps will be figuring out the state of the county’s nascent park system.

Dorchester currently has one park – Richard Rosebrock Park at the corner of S.C. 61 and S.C. 165 – but it has plans for several more.

The county owns land next to the courthouse in St. George, where a recreational facility with ballfields is planned; at Pine Trace, where a combination of ballfields and passive elements are planned; and at the Ashley River, where a park primarily of trails and perhaps some gathering places is planned.

But there has been consistent opposition to a parks department from some who fear the growth of government.

Davis, though, said he was surprised to find a county of Dorchester’s size didn’t have a parks department.

There’s a definite need, he said.

“It’s certainly a quality of life thing,” he said.

Businesses locating here expect to find certain amenities for their employees, he said. Plus, Dorchester has great opportunities to promote eco-tourism, he said.

The county will also eventually have to look at sports leagues, he said.

Right now volunteer groups offer most of the recreational opportunities in the town, he said, but there will come a point when the demand will outpace what the volunteer groups can offer.

Reaching out to all stakeholders – parks and recreation commissioners, County Council members, volunteer groups and potential donors – will be among his first steps once he starts, Davis said.

County Council first included the parks director position in last year’s budget. His salary will be $63,335.

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