ESMMYC Meeting Featured Muni Parks & Rec Leaders – Notes

Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020 (York County, SC)

Meeting summary: Eat Smart Move More York County (ESMMYC) hosted our general membership meeting on Tuesday, October 13, at noon virtually (via Microsoft Teams). We were excited to welcome leaders of Parks and Recreation Departments from across York County as featured guests! We learned about programming, participation and safety measures in the current environment; and going forward, plans and expectations. Leaders also responded to questions from the audience.


Welcome & Intro (Liz Duda)

  • ESMMYC is the local coalition of ESMMSC. ESMMYC leads efforts, partner and collaborate to support healthy eating and active living throughout York County. We work towards sustainable change (e.g., to policies, environments, and systems). We connect people to resources, community organizations and opportunities. We seek to be adaptable to meet different York County community needs. We support equitable access to healthy eating and active living throughout York County neighborhoods and communities, in support of health equity.
  • Leadership team and members are diverse – including a city planner, state health agency, doctor & people in medical industry, school district, elder care service providers, Winthrop professor, local yoga business, Upper Palmetto YMCA, Girls on the Run, Clover Area Assistance Center, parents.

Rapid-Fire Q&A with Municipal Recreation Leaders (Dr. Dave Keely)
Due to technology limitations, Joe Ross shared his responses via “chat.”

1) About you? Participants discussed personal and professional highlights. A few commonalities: 1) a passion for and commitment to bringing recreational opportunities to the local community in support of physical activity and good health; 2) Joe, Brown & Carolyn each attended Winthrop University; and 3) Garnet and Carolyn are life-long residents of the municipalities they serve! Further detail is in their bios.

2) Biggest challenge during summer months? 

  • Garnet McKeown, Rock Hill Parks, Recreation & Tourism (RHPRT) – Amid developing pandemic information, establishing and communicating guidelines to the public to keep people safe and enable them to follow the guidelines. Ensuring people could use outdoor spaces safely. Ensuring staff followed safety protocols and felt comfortable. RHPRT used a phased-in approach.
  • Carolyn Leake, York Parks & Recreation (YPR) – Similar to Garnet’s comments, it was challenging to establish and adhere to guidelines, and educate people, and try to not get frustrated. Now we see “light at end of the tunnel.”
  • Brown Simpson, Fort Mill Parks & Recreation (FMPR) – Did spring sports in summer and some specialty camps; parents needed to sign a Covid-release form. Things changed so quickly that it was hard to know what to believe, and share with the public.
  • Joe Ross, Clover Parks & Recreation (CPR) – Same challenges as the others. Communicated with community patrons via CPR newsletter and news/announcements on town website.

3. What has changed for the fall months?

  • Garnet, RHPRT – Still modifying programs trying to offer as many as can. Offering a childcare program for city employees’ children through December.
  • Carolyn, YPR – Started in August. Spectators sit in the outfield. Limited concession stand. Encourage coach and players to wear face mask (most don’t). About half of parent/spectators wear face masks.
  • Brown, FMPRT – Started fall sports one month ago. Only doing outdoor activities – soccer, baseball, flag football. Safety protocols in place. Challenge is having to constantly remind parents to wear masks. Ask coaches to keep masks on. Getting ready to start basketball program in a month. Trying to adjust and keep programs going.
  • Joe, CPR – Not having access to school facilities. Modified facility protocol for youth sports. No winter basketball. Have hosted special events including Movies in the Park (with the last one scheduled this week). Sponsored Covid testing monthly for the past 3 months. All events offered have safety protocols in place.

4) Budget impact?

  • Garnet, RHPRT – Tourism wasn’t impacted in this budget year, but will be in 2021. Did not lose staff members. (City of Rock Hill FY21 Budget)
  • Carolyn, YPR – Covid hit mid-way through budget year (October fiscal year end). Lost revenue from spring sports and programs, though didn’t spend on equipment and staff. (City of York 2020-2021 Budget)
  • Joe, CPR – Budget has some impact at this time, but likely the full, go-forward impact has not been determined. (Town of Clover FY20-21 Budget)
  • Brown, FMPR – Were able to use the uniforms purchased for spring sports in the fall. Reimbursed all spring participants. Budget year is October 1 – September 30. Thankful that didn’t have to lay off anybody, though didn’t hire some seasonal workers. Funding for the amphitheater project at the Walter Y. Elisha Park is in place, through capital money from impact fees, so in good shape. Because it was an old mill site, that burned down 35 years ago, had to deal with items such as water line removal. If weather holds off, should be done in May/June 2021.

5) Most widely used parks/services during pandemic?

  • Garnet, RHPRT – Most widely used was trails and greenspaces. Been busy since reopened. Safety protocols in place include separate entrances; mask wearing. Continuously remind people to keep masks on.
  • Carolyn, YPR – Playgrounds heavily used, even when technically closed (March – June). Fall sports participation rates were not affected – normal! Added extra sanitary measures; but also need the parents to be responsible.
  • Brown, FMPR – People wanted to get outside and be active, such as walking around the parks. FMPR put out “play at your own risk” and other instructional signage. Playgrounds were closed for awhile. FMPR had to present to town council on how they would proceed form a safety standpoint (e.g., June 8 town council meeting).
  • Joe, CPR– Trails and open spaces were used throughout. Since August, athletic facilities have been heavily used. People happy to get into the parks. Playgrounds have been open. Splash pad at New Centre Park has had a lot of traffic since opening in mid-June.

6) Looking forward to?

  • Garnet, RHPRT – Are connecting Piedmont Trail to River Park and next phase will be from boardwalk to Waterford Trail. Looking forward to all-inclusive Miracle Park (fields; playground; retail) between Cherry Road and Eden Terrace near the Winthrop Coliseum hope for late spring/early summer opening. RHPRT will be responsible for Miracle Park’s maintenance and programming.
  • Joe, CPR – He jokes, being done with 2020! Clover is working on completing trail project with some funding coming from Duke Energy grant. Working on Larne Building refurbishment, and Roosevelt Park outdoor basketball project.
  • Carolyn, YPR – She jokes, agrees with Joe with 2020 being done! New construction at City Park. Had been a long time since the recreation department had renovations. This will be connected to bike trail, and easily accessible via downtown. Will open next month.
  • Brown, FMPR – Improvements to the popular Walter Elijah Park, home of the SC Strawberry Festival include building a restroom facility and amphitheater. Building another restroom at Calhoun Street Park. Banks Athletic Park will be under construction – 50-acres in Waterside off of Banks, housing 4 baseball/softball fields, inclusive playground, picnic shelter, and park, restrooms and concessions – to replace baseball/softball fields that lease from Leroy Springs at the Complex (that will be otherwise developed). Constructing and renovating tennis courts behind the complex. (05/18/2020 RH Herald article here.) Over the long term, in 5-10 years will build a gym facility in the complex after completing the tennis courts. Will put 8 tennis courts in a row. The town owns the complex facility, and leases it to Y. Like shared use of a facility, especially when looking at a budgets.  Down the road, want multi-purpose fields in Fort Mill. Have more property in development with Spratt property off of the Fort Mill Parkway. Also have discussed access to the river. The river is an important part of York County. Rock Hill and Tega Cay have had to deal with heavy usage.
  • Discussion – Potential for York County Parks & Recreation group.

7) How can the ESMMYC coalition assist you?

  • Garnet, RHPRT – Welcomes volunteers or suggestions for any RHPRT programs. Miracle Park opening in 2021 will have many volunteer opportunities. Maybe advice for healthy concession items at Miracle Park. Welcomes ESMMYC input.Jillian Clinton, DHEC, shares the Alliance for a Healthier Generation smarts snack product calculator to see if your snacks align with the same smart snacks policies schools use at This is a great resource!
    RHSD (Sadie Kirell, ESMMYC advisor) has done much work on healthy snacks.
  • Carolyn, YPR – Agrees with Garnet that they welcome input. Would welcome funding resources to get people active and eating healthy. Welcomes revisiting the ESMMYC-led discussion of “open community use” at the schools, which previously met with some resistance and some agreement – she notes that open community use helps York. School districts represent a great resource to tap.
  • Brown, FMPR – Welcomes information from ESMMYC to help people stay active and as healthy as they can be. He appreciates this opportunity to share what has been going on the past 6 months with us.
  • Joe, CPR – Welcomes resources including grant funding; recently applied for ESMMSC mini grant for $4k for trail development. Any support or info encouraging activity and healthy opportunities.


  1. John Cardozo of the Catawba Ridge Riders Youth Cycling serving FM/RH and surrounding areas is grateful to all the parks and recreation leaders for keeping trails open so our 50+ 6th-12th Graders can practice. His group is eager to volunteer at parks, promote cycling & safety.
  2. ESMMYC Access to Healthy Food Committee Formulation – contact Lynn Caldwell
  3. DHEC SNAP-Ed program, “Cooking Matters for Adults” or “Cooking Matters for Parents” – free, virtual offer – contact Jillian Clinton,
  4. City of Rock Hill: Comprehensive Plan Virtual Community Meeting (October date TBD)
  5. ESMMYC December meeting planning – (our general meetings are even months on 2nd Tuesday noon-1pm) – next is scheduled for Tuesday, 12/8 at noon – but we welcome suggestions on speakers/activities
  6. 12 Days of Joy (originally “Friendsgiving”) 12/1-12/12/2020 – in Rock Hill & could be replicated in other neighborhoods/municipalities – highlighting local agencies will recruit volunteers & donations; goal of increasing holiday joy & getting resources into hands of people – contact Samantha Krieghauser
  7. RFATS Public Meeting: 2050 Long-Range Transportation Plan Update, Tuesday, October 13, 2020, 1:30-3pm; and Thursday, October 15, 6:-7:30pm
  8. Bike/Ped Coalition of York County: 11/04/2020 noon guest speaker is Patrick Hamilton of Pennies for Progress; 01/06/2021 noon guest speaker is Amy Johnson Ely of Palmetto Cycling Coalition; recent guest speaker was Carolina Thread Trail Director (article here)
  9. Impact York County coalition: 3rd Fridays at 9am (10/16, 11/20), plus committee meetings
  10. Let any ESMMYC leadership team member know if you have ideas on which we can collaborate with you, or if you have suggestions for ESMMYC.