Mismanagement puts Chapin Technology Park project behind schedule, over budget

Mismanagement puts Chapin Technology Park project behind schedule, over budget

CHAPIN, SC (WIS) - A major project in Chapin is behind schedule and over budget.

It's hard to miss the signs of construction as you drive to Chapin down Columbia Avenue. Just near Chapin High School sits a 220-acre property that the county owns and plans to use.

Chapin Business and Technology Park is a business community that was supposed to be completed in 2016.

However, as of Friday, the project is nowhere near completion.

The plans put in place and approved by county council aimed to build a technology park five years ago.

On Monday, Lexington County Council members heard concerns from CEO of Mungo Homes Stewart Mungo, who says the county is not following through with an agreement made in 2012.

Mungo Homes and Lexington County have an agreement that if the county builds the road and sewer in the area, he would build up a community nearby. That part of the project was supposed to be completed in 2012.

As of Friday, there is no sewer access and the road remains closed.

Lexington County Councilwoman Erin Bergeson confirmed Friday that the project is behind schedule and over budget. The project is now running around nearly $14 million. It's estimated by council members it could reach to $20 million once completed.

Lexington County Councilman Ned Tolar confirmed a $615,000 fountain was purchased for the park. Bergeson called the fountain a "sad example of wasting taxpayer dollars for a Class A park."

After Monday's council meeting, a couple of council members are spearheading an effort to get back on track. Councilwoman Bergeson agreed that the council needs to keep promises they make.

Councilman Phil Yarborough criticized county administrators.

"Competent project management is one of the basic job requirement of a county administrator," Yarborough said. "In a county such as ours, there's simply no excuse for our administrator to so badly mismanaging such a straight-forward project. Frankly, if he had worked for me he'd have been let go a long time ago. This kind of mismanagement wouldn't fly in the business world, and it shouldn't be acceptable for county government."

All council members said they were embarrassed at Monday's meeting.

The county issued a statement late Friday from Chairman Todd Cullum on Chapin Business and Technology Park, saying:

The County is working diligently to develop the Chapin Business and Technology Park at Brighton and create a prosperous lifestyle that will spur responsible growth in the Chapin area.

Tolar released the following statement regarding the issue:

"On Friday, the County Council chairman criticized me – apparently for simply answering a reporter's question about delay at the Chapin business park -- via a news release which was sent on official letterhead by the county's public information office.

"While I understand his sensitivity over the business park fiasco, I hope that in the future the Chairman will refrain from using county employees and other taxpayer resources in this manner. The public information office exists to convey important information to citizens, not for political one-upmanship.

"For the record, I do believe the business project has been badly mismanaged. All evidence indicates that the county administration made promises that went unfulfilled. Taxpayers have spent millions on a business park that now sits vacant when it should be attracting new economic investment. Even worse, there appears to be a lack of straight answers. Lexington County government is falling short of our citizens' expectations.

"Whatever the reasons for the delay, we owe it to the taxpayers to get that entrance road open, and to be candid with the public about any problems at the park. No one is well-served when county leaders attempt to pass the buck, or shoot the messenger, or conceal details from the public."

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