FORT MILL — Don't plan on parking in the Springs Global lot for this year's S.C. Strawberry Festival.
The Town of Fort Mill and Springs Global could not reach an agreement this year that would makes the spots available to the public, the company's attorney said.
Although the festival is already underway with preliminary events such as tonight's Pick N' Flick at the Springs Farm strawberry patch, the main segments are held Friday and Saturday at downtown's Walter Y. Elisha Park on North White Street. Typically, public parking is available in the Springs Global lot next to the park, although the town encourages festival-goers not within walking distance to use the free park and ride shuttle buses that run all day Friday and Saturday.
Delbridge Narron, general counsel for Springs Global, said it's become standard practice to sign an agreement with the town that protects the company from any liability related to the town's use of its property for the festival. He said the terms of the agreement have been the same going as back far as when Fest-i-Fun was the town's annual spring festival. The S.C. Strawberry Festival started four years ago.
However, Narron said the town balked at signing the agreement this year, even after he thought the company and the town and agreed on a new set of terms.
"Things changed on the other side," he said, and negotiations ended Tuesday with no agreement.
"It's a huge liability," Narron said, emphasizing that beer and wine is sold during the festival. "We were just trying to find a way to protect ourselves."
Town Parks and Recreation Director Brown Simpson urged patience and said if festival-goers use the park and ride, "it will work out just fine."
The shuttles will be running from Nation Ford and Fort Mill High Schools and First Baptist Church on Confederate Street downtown. Parking spaces will be available on Hwy. 160 West in the field across from the Peach Stand, which is a short walk from Walter Elisha Park.
"Those fill up pretty quick," Simpson said, reiterating why the shuttle locations are the best options.
"Use those shuttles and just have a little patience and it will work out just fine," he said.
Assistant Town Manager Joe Cronin said two locations are being set up as dedicated handicap parking spots. One is at St. John's United Methodist Church on Tom Hall Street and the other is Riverview Elementary (Hwy. 21 entrance). Only cars with handicap parking permits will be allowed in. Shuttles will run from both locations and bring riders to the front gate of Walter Y. Elisha Park.
"We want to ensure equal access for everyone," Cronin said.
For more about the festival, click here.