Transportation group votes to use $10 million to pave roads around failed Panthers facility

The roads would connect the area surrounding the failed facility, and would stem from the I-77 interchange.
The money would be taken out of taxpayer dollars that had previously been allotted to the facility's construction.
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 6:08 PM EST
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ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - As of this moment, the new I-77 exit interchange that was supposed to be leading up to the Panthers’ failed practice facility is now leading nowhere. On Friday, a group met in hopes of changing that.

The Rock Hill Fort Mill Area Transportation Study (RFATS) voted to take $10 million from an over-budgeted project and put it towards building road connections that stem from the I-77 interchange.

The connections would create roads leading from the interstate to Eden Terrace and Mount Gallant Road. Those connective roads were supposed to be handled by Panthers owner David Tepper as a part of the agreement for building the facility.

Tensions are still very high between the city of Rock Hill and York County, not just because of the failed facility project, but also because of decisions regarding what do with the roads around it.

Related: Construction begins on ‘Panthers Interchange’ on I-77 in Rock Hill, S.C.

Rock Hill Mayor John Gettys and others want to get the funding secured for the roadways now.

”No one benefits from having roads that are not open for public consumption when the public paid for the interchange to get you there,” Gettys said.

From the opposing side, York County Councilmember Tom Audette said it is not ‘sound’ to make decision on funding with pending litigation.

“For us to vote ‘yes’ on anything on this property did not make sense at this point at all,” Audette said.

Part of Audette’s concern is the fact the property is still owned by Tepper.

”To move over taxpayer money onto a private property where that owner should have paved those roads is not right,” he said.

It has been reported that the City of Rock Hill is trying to gain ownership of the property, although Gettys would not disclose specifics. He did though say that there are items in the bankruptcy agreement that have been submitted to the court.

”Today gives us the ability to start the process so that when the ownership is resolved, we won’t then be behind the curve,” Gettys said.

Friday’s vote passed -- contingent on Rock Hill or York County taking over the land Tepper owns.

”That is what we voted on today. That is the specific language of the motion. To say otherwise is incorrect,” State Senator Wes Climer said.

Climer said what will help the future of this project is a decision in the bankruptcy hearing. He believes the city and county are at odds because both are trying to protect their own interests in the bankruptcy proceedings in different ways.

”My hope is that the city and the county will find a better way to work with one another on a resolution that serves both of their interests instead of being in conflict with one another,” Climer said.

This vote was only the first of two. Another vote will need to pass in January for the money to be transferred to this project.

Related: ‘Panthers Interchange’ being completed on I-77, despite practice facility situation