An empty lot will once again be a site of life and activity.
Officials broke ground on Firday for a new community center at the intersection of Grace and Cooper Streets in the Wall Street community.
Yvonne Knight-Carter, who owns the parcel of land, said the site used to host baseball games and community gatherings.
“It’s sort of come full circle,” Knight-Carter said at a ceremony.
The new 1,600-square-foot facility will contain classrooms to host short-term learning projects, STEM programming, and other youth-centered initiatives in the predominately black, low-income neighborhood.
The project is spearheaded by Berkeley’s Habitat for Humanity, along with Grace Reformed Episcopal Church and got rolling with a $70,000 Lowe’s grant. Friday's ceremony was met with strong support from residents, along with Berkeley County and Moncks Corner officials.
State Rep. Sylleste Davis, R-Berkeley, said she hopes the center sets a precedent for other South Carolina communities.
“I believe what we’re doing here today is a model for other community centers around the state,” Davis said at the ceremony.
Moncks Corner Mayor Lockliear added that the center correlates with the town’s Main Street initiative to revitalize the downtown district.
“We’re excited that Habitat has chosen this spot,” Lockliear said. “It ties in well with what we’re trying to do downtown.”
Local residents have long expressed the desire for such a center that will give students something to do after school. Tory Liferidge, pastor of Grace Reformed Episcopal Church in Moncks Corner, envisions that the center will help eliminate youth idleness in the community.
“We’ve seen the free time and idle time our children have,” Liferidge said.
“When we have idle time, we get in trouble. ...Our end goal is to have everyone empowered and see no one go into our criminal justice system," he said.
Berkeley County Supervisor Bill Peagler, Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis and Moncks Corner Police Chief Rick Ollic also attended the groundbreaking ceremony.