Round Hill’s long-awaited dream of a lakefront park will become a reality in the coming months.
Development of the town’s 11-acre Sleeter Lake Park, located on the eastern shore of the lake next to the town’s water treatment plant, has been underway since September and is now in the final steps of completion. It will open next spring for visitors to fish from the shoreline and launch canoes, kayaks or small boats with trolling motors. Aside from the park being a relaxing spot for locals, it also is expected to serve as a key destination for all types of community activity.
Town Administrator Buster Nicholson said the majority of the park’s $500,000 worth of work is already complete. This has included the construction of a gravel driveway and 34 parking spaces and the clearing of vegetation. Canoe and kayak storage, benches, picnic tables and signage are now being installed.
“It’s beautiful. It feels right, it just does,” Nicholson said.
According to Zoning Administrator and Town Planner Melissa Hynes, the park will be intended for passive recreation like fishing, picnicking and canoeing. She said it will also be a hub for education.
“We look forward to using Sleeter Lake Park to educate visitors about the history of Round Hill,” Hynes said. “We want to inspire children to appreciate nature and to teach them more about the wildlife in their backyards.”
To accomplish this, the town is working on partnerships with area environmental stewardship organizations to create an outdoor classroom at the park. Hynes said the classroom will feature a natural meadow, a monarch waystation, a pollinator garden, a bluebird trail and an observation bee hive.
The town is also planning a volunteer day in spring for organizations, families and individuals to help plant flowers and native plants around the park.
Until then, Hynes said the town hopes to connect with other volunteer groups who want to work on projects in the park. These could include helping with historic preservation, sustaining the natural habitats of wildlife in the area or restoring some of the old farmhouses on site.
Mayor Scott Ramsey said the county government, which awarded the town a $220,000 Capital Improvements Grant to help with construction, would also be helping with park operations.
“They’re going to actually help us maintain the park,” he said. “They came through for us.”
Sleeter Lake Park has been in the making since 1989, when Oak Hill Properties proffered the land to town after the area was rezoned for construction of The Villages at Round Hill. It wasn’t until recently, however, that the town made any real progress in planning or building the park.
Sleeter Lake, which covers 100 acres, was created in the late 1960s, when Army Colonel Frank Sleeter, the original owner of Hill High Orchards, built a dam along a local creek to irrigate his peach and apple orchards.
The park is scheduled to open to the public on May 1. Permanent restrooms and a small pavilion will be added in next fall. The park will be open daily from 7 a.m. to dusk through November.