Affidavit: McColl supports York County museum foundation’s handling of donated land

adouglas@heraldonline.comJuly 22, 2013 

An affidavit signed by Jane Spratt McColl says the York County museum foundation’s plans for using the nearly 400 acres of land in Fort Mill she donated in 1998 “are consistent with my family’s original intent.”

Use of the land along the Catawba River near I-77 and Sutton Road has been the center of a dispute between the foundation, York County Council, and the commission that oversees York County’s museums.

Last month, the York County Council sued the foundation after the foundation changed its mission from supporting York County museums exclusively to supporting other groups in South Carolina.

The county wants a judge to rule that the McColl land and any money raised by the foundation can only be used for York County museum purposes.

McColl’s affidavit was filed by the foundation in response to the lawsuit.

The affidavit states that McColl gave the land to the foundation to use at its discretion “in support of the cultural, historical and environmental resources of York County.”

McColl, a Charlotte resident, and her family gave the land to the foundation as an “outright gift,” according to her affidavit, not a gift to York County or its museum commission.

In her affidavit, McColl states that “part of the land may be placed in conservation and ... some of the land may be sold to fund initiatives that enhance cultural, historical and environmental resources of the York County community,” however the foundation’s leadership determines.

McColl could not be reached by The Herald on Monday.

About 60 acres of the land has been sold for development. The foundation and York County officials have said about 60 acres of the remaining land will be set aside for a museum.

York County filed its suit against the foundation on June 28, claiming that the foundation refused to release information about donated money and land and violated its own bylaws by formally changing its mission last year.

McColl’s affidavit – filed July 9 – was signed more than one month before York County sued the foundation.

County and foundation officials have argued publicly for years.

About nine months ago, the commission that oversees York County museums voted 5-2 to “request that the York County Council take immediate action to obtain the title” to the donated land after a letter written to McColl in 1998 was found in museum files.

Museum Executive Director Carey Tilley found the letter, written by then-museum director Van Shields, asking McColl to designate her land gift to the foundation “on behalf of York County,” which would eventually hold title to the land.

A May 1, 2012, change to the foundation’s mission statement prompted York County’s lawsuit and its request for court intervention.

The mission statement change – filed with the S.C. Secretary of State – indicates that the foundation intends to use its fundraising activities to support other groups or organizations in South Carolina. Before, the foundation only supported York County’s museums.

York County’s lawsuit states that the foundation can’t, according to its bylaws, change its mission except in circumstances beyond its control, which was not the case with the 2012 change, the county alleges.

County officials were told of the mission statement change on March 8 of this year, when the foundation sent a letter to its supporters with an update on its mission change and the McColl property.

Jim Sheedy, attorney for the foundation, did not comment on the affidavit but provided The Herald with a copy of the document.

York County attorney Michael Kendree was out of town on Monday and could not be reached.

Columbia lawyer Brian Autry is listed on York County’s lawsuit as its legal counsel. He did not return a phone call from The Herald on Monday.

Foundation Chairman Bill Easley told The Herald by email on Monday that he could not comment on upcoming legal proceedings or how a judge may view McColl’s affidavit.

The foundation’s primary role, he said, is to “manage assets in a way consistent with our donors’ wishes” and “all actions taken by the foundation have been in the spirit of fulfilling donors’ wishes.”

The affidavit, Easley said, is “a reaffirmation” of McColl’s trust in the foundation to make decisions regarding the donated land.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

Fort Mill Times is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service