New Carolina Bay deck opens

The weather was a bit chilly Tuesday morning, but residents warmly celebrated the opening of the new observation deck at the Carolina Bay.

A green ribbon was cut by city officials along with individuals from the Aiken Land Conservancy, the Savannah River Ecology Lab and Aiken County Schools Superintendent Dr. Beth Everett.

Students from Millbrook Elementary and St. Mary’s were also in attendance.

“I’m pleased to say that we have another classroom for us to learn in,” Everett said. “This will be a place where learning happens.”

The observation deck, which can hold around 40 students, is around a 36-by-28-foot, two-level structure that’s covered and includes a sink and work table. The deck was constructed over the summer by Stewart Builders.

“What a beautiful building,” said Larry Comegys, Aiken Land Conservancy president, who saw the deck on paper before it became a reality.

“This building came out even prettier than in the plans.”

The new observation deck can be used by area schools and is ideal for science classes. Teachers were already bringing students to the bay and now there is a safe, accessible area for them to conduct class. The Carolina Bay is home to a variety of plants, birds, reptiles and insects.

“There’s so much that can be learned by the little creatures here,” said Fred Cavanaugh, Aiken city mayor.

“There are many things in the water you can learn from. It’s really a unique treasure that Aiken has.”

Cavanaugh added that the bay is a great asset for residents of all ages.

At the end of the ceremony, some of the students asked City Manager Richard Pearce if they could have a piece of the green ribbon as a momento of the event.

Pearce helped each child who wanted the small souvenir cut off a piece.

“It’s a great day,” Pearce said. “We’re very excited to have the Carolina Bay observation deck open.”

The project was estimated to cost around $73,000 and was a Capital Sales Tax item.

The Carolina Bay is located off Price Avenue near the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center.

The deck is available for public use all week from sunrise to sunset, as long as it’s not reserved for an event.

Schools can use the facility for free but are asked to call the Weeks Center to make a reservation.

Other reservations for events are available in four-hour time blocks, and fees do apply.

Call 642-7631 for more information.