COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A plan to attract visitors to the South Carolina State House has hit an unexpected hurdle.
On Monday, the Florida-based Knight Foundation announced a $195,000 gr ant to the City of Columbia that would transform the State House grounds into fun-filled a "front porch" complete with games and relaxing furniture.
However, a letter to Mayor Stephen Benjamin from Marcia Adams, executive director of the South Carolina Department of Administration, puts brakes on the plan.
"The Department of Administration has significant concerns regarding insurance, liability, maintenance and security issues as this project would include the installation of infrastructure elements such as Adirondack chairs, beach chairs and umbrellas, café and work tables, joggling boards, stair squares, and hammocks, as well as giant games such as chess, corn hole, ping pong, tumble tower, and putting greens," Adams wrote in the letter to the mayor.
The Department of Administration also alleges that the city applied for the gr ant and listed the State of South Carolina as a partner without coordination with or approval from state officials.
"Further, the gr ant application includes a State in-kind contribution in the form of $35,000 worth of salaries from the Department of Administration staff to secure, remove and reinstall various pieces of infrastructure multiple times per week," Adams wrote. "Admin did not agree to this nor does it have sufficient staff to provide this in-kind contribution."
Adams also wrote that she doesn't feel the "front porch" activities would fit in with the "dignity, decorum, and aesthetics" of the State House grounds.
"Admin cannot support the City's proposed 'The State's Front Porch' project," she concluded in the letter to Benjamin.
However, in a response to state government and Gov. Henry McMaster, Mayor Steve Benjamin defended the project, saying that the State House is ultimately the perfect example of what the grant was seeking.
"Imagine a place where residents and constituents can engage with each other and with their elected officials in a relaxed setting," Benjamin wrote. "Imagine a State House that citizens embrace as their own, the front porch to their state."
Benjamin also stressed that the plan does not alter the State House grounds.