Richland County recently purchased 4-acres on Lake Murray, a move that will provide public access to the lake’s northeastern shore and may increase opportunities for tourists and residents alike.
The possibility of a tourist site on the lake stems from feasibility studies commissioned by Richland County Council. The studies identified the Bonuck Road property as the only opportunity for access in Richland County. Of the four counties bordering Lake Murray, Richland County is the only one that lacks public access.
“I heard from a lot of residents concerned about a lack of public lake access on the north side of the lake, as well as people concerned that this area of the County had never gotten any hospitality tax projects,” said Richland County Councilman Bill Malinowski, whose District 1 includes the Lake Murray area. “In response to their input, I began exploring property for an upscale tourism or banquet facility that would have low impact on residents.”
The Bonuck Road property, valued at $2.3 million, was purchased for $2,025,000 at the end of June. Located along Bonuck Road between Lake Murray and Salem Church Road, the property contains about .3 miles of shoreline and was the sole opportunity for the County to purchase a site large enough to offer access to the lake. The surrounding area is made up of larger tracts with homes set back from the roads, as well as a vacant piece of property containing more than 30 acres and currently for sale.
“Richland County has experienced a tremendous loss of business over the years due to not having Lake Murray access,” said Miriam Atria, CEO of the Capital City Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board. “A well planned, upscale facility that would provide a place for weddings, conferences, family reunions and banquets would be a boost for Richland County’s economy.”
The Bonuck Road property was purchased with funds generated from the hospitality tax, the 2 percent tax on prepared foods. Proceeds from the hospitality tax are used to fund projects and events that draw tourists to the County. A feasibility study suggested several options for the site which will be discussed with residents.
Whatever is decided, a marina is not an option at the site according to SCE&G, which manages the lake and was involved in the feasibility study.
Malinowski said his top priority now is ensuring local residents have ample opportunity to offer input.
“I’ll make sure Richland County doesn’t adopt any plans for this property without listening to area homeowners,” he said. “Any project must have buy-in from the public, be upscale in nature and have low impact on the existing community.”