A few hundred yards away, earth was moving and a fire burning. Heavy equipment was swinging its arms and emitting the roar of diesel engines.

Work on the City Clinton’s recreation complex is underway, and a group of dignitaries wearing hardhats and tossing a few shovel loads of dirt was just the ceremonial affirmation, on S.C. 56 at the park’s entrance.

Tuesday morning marked a ceremonial checkpoint in a process that began with the passage of a penny sales tax in 2008 that has thus far raised $5,328,000, a goodly part of which will be used for the complex’s design, construction and upkeep.

City Council voted to purchase the land in November 2018.

Mayor Bob McLean said the project will benefit almost everyone in the city in some way in its 166 acres, whether by the playing fields and courts, the 2.6 miles of trails, 2.0-mile bike course or the 3,000-seat amphitheater that will facilitate concerts and other forms of entertainment.