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York County protecting 1,900 acres from development by turning it into a park

Riverbend Park will border the Catawba River and will offer hiking, camping, boating, fishing and other amenities.

YORK COUNTY, South Carolina — York County Council approved a plan to protect 1,900 acres bordering the Catawba River from development, by instead turning it into a nature-based park.

The site for Riverbend Park is outside of Rock Hill on Neely Store Road. It will be almost twice the size of Central Park in New York City, and 1,700 acres were designated as a conservation easement.

“There were developers looking to develop the land,” York County Assistant Manager Mark Moore said. “So the county came in and in 2018 completed the purchase of the land to put it in the conservation easement.”

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Moore said as the county continues to grow, people are looking for more green space in the community as opposed to more development.  Loni Peters, who lives across the street from where the park’s entrance will be, agrees.

“I love the idea that we bought in a town that’s kind of coming to life, but at a distance,” Peters said.

The master plan for Riverbend Park was three years in the making. The park will border the Catawba River and will offer hiking, camping, boating, fishing and other amenities. It will be built in three phases, and the first phase could be complete in five years.

“In the first five years, we’re going to get a lot of the basics in the park, like the park entrance, the loop road, the five-mile trail,” Moore said.

The entire project could take up to 15 years to complete with a price tag of $54 million. York County said it’ll use its own money as well as state, federal and private funding.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Peters said. “I look forward to everything that’s going to be there.”

Contact Indira Eskieva at ieskieva@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.