Local governments, nonprofit organizations and foundations are collaborating to expand Greenville’s inventory of parks and trails, with at least six projects in the works, most of them in or near downtown.
For some of the projects, construction is about to begin. Others still lack funding and have no specific timetables.
Debate has just begun over what should go in a small city park next to an established neighborhood.
One major initiative that could materialize soon is a 3.4-mile addition to the Swamp Rabbit Trail in the heart of Greenville.
Greenville County Councilman Fred Payne, who is spearheading the project, said he aims to have it done in a year, though he has yet to secure an estimated $680,000 needed to build it. [How bout, instead, repairing them roads with that moola?] Payne and a committee working with him plan for the trail to be along a stretch of former freight railroad that runs roughly parallel to Laurens Road, from Pleasantburg Drive near the TD Convention Center to the former Hollingsworth on Wheels textile machinery plant near the Greenville/Mauldin line. Along the way, the route traverses Haywood and Woodruff roads, the Verdae development and Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research.
It’s part of about 13 miles of railroad that the county acquired in 1999 [costing $1.3 million] for possible use in public transportation. About 10 miles between downtown Greenville and Travelers Rest were developed into the Swamp Rabbit Trail, but the county never decided what to do with the rest.
Payne is chairman of the Greenville County Economic Development Corp., a county-created corporation that owns a 200-foot right of way along most of the corridor, or a 100-foot strip of land.
Payne says his ultimate goal is a “multi-modal corridor” along the route, including driverless cars, but first he plans an addition to the Swamp Rabbit that could be used by pedestrians, bicyclists and battery-powered golf carts. “Hopefully we’ll have a ribbon cutting next October,” he said.
Payne and members of the committee have made headway, even if they haven’t secured construction money. [Interpretation: "We haven't got enough taxpayer funding yet due to the SRT's bad PR, brought on by criminals last August."]
Ty Houck, greenways director for the county recreation department, recently finished clearing brush from the route with a Bush Hog.
Pulse, the Greenville Chamber’s group for young professionals, has agreed to pitch in, starting with Web surveys to see how the public wants to use the route, said John Boyanoski, chairman of the group.
Executives with ICAR and Verdae said they have given the corporation that Payne chairs fee-simple ownership of a 100-foot corridor through their properties.
The Upstate Forever conservation group has begun a study of the route that will include surveying, design, preliminary engineering and developing a unified vision among stakeholders, said Lisa Hallo, director of its sustainable communities program. She said the study, funded in part by the Hollingsworth Funds foundation, also will explore how to connect the trail to downtown and where development might occur along the corridor. [... perhaps a Greenville County police outpost?]
Rick Sumerel, chief executive of the company developing Verdae, said he expects the trail would spur housing and retail development inside the 1,100-acre Verdae. Sumerel also said he would like to see the trail connect with Verdae’s 20-acre Hollingsworth Park.
According to Houck, the existing Swamp Rabbit cost an average of $200,000 per mile to develop, including pavement, signage and crosswalks. At that rate, creating the 3.4-mile addition would cost $680,000. Payne said he figures the money could be raised. “It’s not a huge amount,” he said.
Big downtown park
Big costs are standing in the way of another major project — a park of at least 22.5 acres planned by the city of Greenville on either side of the Reedy River and Swamp Rabbit Trail just past the Kroc Center and A.J. Whittenberg Elementary School from downtown.
Now the city’s 15.5-acre, 11-building public works complex is located in the area, and the estimated cost of moving it to a new location on Fairforest Way is $30 million. The park itself is estimated to cost another $13 million. [That's $43,000,000 by itself... forget that dream and you could easily scrap the 1% sales tax nightmare the Greenville County taxpayers are going to wake up to at the close of November 4th, 2014!] City officials say they are confident they can find ways to drive down both totals. [... Todd W. Frederick has a way, saying: "Scrap the whole money pit project. This will drive the costs down to ground zero. Next, repair some bridges and roads with it instead, for Buddha's sake.]
In the meantime, Mayor Knox White and some City Council members are vowing to forge ahead, developing the park in phases as funding permits, with some of the work done before the public works complex is completely moved. [Hey Mayor and City Council... how bout doing a line of credit on everyone's houses who is in favor of "forging ahead" with this project?]
The Community Foundation of Greenville plans to contribute and find other donors as well, said Bob Morris, its president. [Well, I must give these fellows some credit for putting thei own monies toward their "dreams." Seriously!]
A preliminary design drawn up by consultants details an elaborate project, with an entry plaza at Hudson and Mayberry streets next to a “destination playground” and “sprayground” with jets spouting water from the ground. The design also shows a big deck overlooking the Reedy River in between two pedestrian bridges, two massive greens, a parkour course, a multi-purpose field with bleachers, two basketball courts, community and demonstration gardens, and a three-building complex with a visitors center and stage.
During a discussion of the plans earlier this year, White and City Councilman David Sudduth sparred over whether the city was improperly raising public expectations about a park it can’t yet afford.
Sudduth told the city’s consultants, Seamon Whiteside, that the park design was “gorgeous” but “in the land of reality it’s almost the tail wagging the dog.” [Now Mr. Suddeth is my kinda man... thinks in reality!]
White said he saw nothing wrong with planning and “taking some small bites along the way.”
The city began planning Falls Park, the mayor recalled, before it had control over the Camperdown Way bridge that was eventually demolished to make way for Liberty Bridge. “These things don’t happen overnight,” White said.
Four smaller initiatives are in various stages of completion.
Construction is set to start this winter on two that will put new recreational space beside Falls Park.
The grandest, Cancer Survivors Park, is planned on three acres between Falls Park and Cleveland Park, between the Next Innovation Center and the Greenville Chamber offices.
Its most prominent features would be a 40-foot-tall pavilion shaped like a circus tent and a 12-foot-wide, illuminated suspension bridge carrying the Swamp Rabbit over the Reedy River.
Groundbreaking for the first phase, which includes the pavilion and the bridge, is scheduled for January, with opening expected this summer, said Kay Roper, executive director of Patients First, a nonprofit organization that is developing the park as a “healing space” for cancer patients and their loved ones.
Roper said the two-level, brick-and-stone Celebration Pavilion would be “part sculpture and part structure.” It would rise where the lower level of the Chamber’s parking lot is now. An open-air labyrinth would be on top of the pavilion and education space on the bottom.
The suspension bridge would replace the existing “cheese gate” bridge on the property now. Plans also call for a water feature, gardens, sculpture and children’s area.
Roper said Patients First has raised about $3.2 million of the $4.5 million cost, including $1.3 million from the city [taxpayers].
Construction is scheduled to begin in December on a separate $2 million project that would be an extension of Falls Park. [4.5 + 2 = another $6,500,000 which could have improved the"failing roads" in Gv County, or $49,500,00 when adding in "the 15.5 acre, 11 building project cost for the move to Fairforest Way." ... Are you still buying into the 1% Greenville County Sales Tax rhetoric?]
It’s planned on 3.5 acres between the stage used for Shakespeare in the Park and the roundabout at the entrance to the Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. As part of the project, a portion of the parking lot behind The Warehouse Theater would be replaced with a garden called Pedrick’s Garden. It would be named in honor of Pedrick Lowrey, who was instrumental in the development of Falls Park before dying of cancer in 2010.
Pedrick’s Garden would consist of three circular elements resembling sunflowers, said Greenville architect Ed Zeigler, whose firm was hired to execute the concept originally created by a Vermont designer. [Why not by a fellow Greenvillian?Vermont? Give me a break!]
One of the sunflowers would have a fountain in it, another would be a circular lawn and the third would have granite pavers on which sculpture would be placed in the future, Zeigler said.
A new bridge with an observation deck would be built over a steep ravine, from the sunflowers to Furman College Way, the street that divides Falls Park from the Governor’s School.
A garden with native plantings is planned under the bridge, on both sides of a creek that runs through the ravine. Already in the area are old stone walkways and walls that used to be part of a Furman University arboretum. Zeigler said the funding was raised by the Carolina Foothills Garden Club and individuals in honor of Lowrey.
Not far from downtown, another park is planned on 6.3 acres next to the former Monaghan Mill. [Note: whenever you see the word “park” then just imagine a bunch of cash registers ringing: Cha-Ching!, Cha-Ching! ...GCC’s response to the GTHS’s plans: “Uh-Hum! Let’s forget the deteriorating roadways ‘cause those dreamers done dreamt up another dream... Yoo-Hoo! Taxpayers! We’re needing more money!] There, the Greenville Textile Heritage Society plans a picnic area, playground, trails and a gazebo where the society’s brass band could play. The society hopes to connect the property to the nearby Swamp Rabbit Trail and put a restored mill house on it to house a textile museum, said Don Harkins, its chairman.
Harkins said the society has raised $100,000 of the $1 million needed to develop the park. Half came from Greenville County and the rest from individuals, he said. [$50,000 from Gv Cnty taxpayers, where most likely the remaining $900K will come from.] “We wanted to do something to memorialize the textile industry,” Harkins said. “It was such a big part of Greenville at one time.” The acreage was donated by the developer of The Lofts of Greenville, the apartment complex in the former Monaghan Mill. [You ever heard of a placard on a stone monument?]
Harkins said the county recreation department has agreed to maintain the park if it gets built. [Yoo-Hoo! Taxpayers, check yer mail; we got another assessment for ya!] The society hopes to break ground in the spring if it can raise the money, he said. The project’s working title is Greenville Textile Heritage Park. [Honoring the “then” working class, while yet building recreational theme parks for today’s lazy“brats?!]
“If we get a big donor, we’d put someone’s name on it,” Harkins said. [Big “If”, but “if” not then Gv Cnty taxpayers will be paying for it. Let’s let these “Dreamers” pay for their dreams; the taxpayers are on the hook/ Then, maybe us taxpayers might have enough money to go vacation where we please! ... after all it's our money, let us dream big and spent it where we want to!]
The city has just begun to plan another park on 4.7 acres where the Cleveland Park Stables used to be along the Reedy River next to Cleveland Park. A developer had planned apartments at the site before a neighbor, M. Jill Cox, bought the property and donated it to the city for a park. [This was absurd! An apartment complex would have been an “income producer” but now it will be another “leech” on the taxpayers’ bank accounts. Still think we need a 1% sales tax increase?!]
City officials said they’re ready to demolish buildings that were part of the former stables operation but don’t have money yet to build the new park. They took design ideas from the public during a hearing Tuesday night at Hughes Main Library downtown. [Yoo-Hoo! Taxpayers? Our coffers are needing replenished again; time for another reassessment.] Jeff Waters, an urban designer with the city, showed two concept plans with various potential features such as a playground, a picnic shelter, a wildflower meadow, a river overlook and a parking lot. The plans drew objections from some of about 30 people at the meeting, many of whom live beside or near the site. One neighbor said he didn’t want to see an “amusement park” on the property and another advocated a “natural piece of property with nothing on it.” Another attendee asked if the site could be used as an ultimate Frisbee field. [To all of the objectors, the city officials said: yawn... "Okay, when can we build?" Come on, can't you government officials ever listen and do what your constituents voice out? There will be those who will end up having their properties taxed so high that their houses may go to the tax auction!]
Before adjourning, attendees gathered around tables to draw their own ideas on maps using markers. [How about pen-knives? These “developers” need to get a real job instead of dreaming up more ways to waste taxpayers’ hard earned money!]
Even more park development could result from Greenville County’s recent decision to turn what used to be the county Recreation District into a new department of county government. The old recreation district never included the county’s four biggest cities — Greenville, Mauldin, Simpsonville and Greer — so their residents never paid property taxes to support recreation services provided by the district. [Should have they? Considering they already pay Gv County and their own city’s taxation rates?! Also, middle-class and section-8 renters don’t pay property taxes to Gv County either.... Don't forget to go after them,too!]
That changed when the county absorbed the district and turned it into the county’s new Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. Suddenly, residents of the four cities find themselves paying property taxes to support the new county department because they’re county residents too. [Isn't this Socialism, taking from the wealthy (property owners)? When you have 91.67% of the people present to speak at the Gv County Council meeting on June 18th 2013, just to have a deaf ear turned to them? Then 9 out of the 11 council members voted to tax them! Absurd! I smell a lawsuit out of Greer brewing...]
The change will generate an extra $2.6 million a year in tax revenue, and officials of the four cities think the county ought to use some or all of the money to provide new recreation service inside the cities. [An annualized $2.6 million extortion against the Greer, Mauldin, Simpsonville and Greenville taxpayer sheeple.] “County officials are under no obligation to do that, but they are nonetheless talking to officials in all four cities about how to use the money”, said County Administrator Joe Kernell. [How thoughtful... they’re considering how to launder the stolen money from the 4 cities’ property owners.... Is he serious?!]
White, the Greenville mayor, said he thinks one possible use of the new money is completing the Swamp Rabbit Trail between Pleasantburg Drive and Interstate 85. [Forget the S.R.T. just rescind the Gv County’s annexation of G, M, Gv and S then give the property owners a rollback on their taxes. After all, Gv Cnty has $58,000,000 sitting in a “rainy day fund" and another $50,000,000 in parks, relocating and demolition projects. If these projects are sooo necessary then tap into these funds/ If these pet projects are not needful then “table” them and kick these dreamers out of the Gv Cnty Council Chambers!]
Greenville City Manager John Castile said another possibility is building a water park in Greenville like the three water parks the county has developed in Simpsonville, the Piedmont area and near Travelers Rest. [How about a private company build and manage this lovely water-theme park, charge a fee to its users and not charge property owners who, most likely, will never utilize that in which they are paying for. Or, just let the taxpayers buy a few hundred water hoses so the kids can cool themselves down in their family's backyards?... didn’t we do that as a kid?!]
Gene Smith, who runs the new county recreation department, said he’d like to build ball fields where the high school used to be in Travelers Rest and a new park and trail along the CSX railroad tracks off of Poinsett Highway. Smith, however, said his department’s No. 1 priority when it comes to capital improvements is $15 million worth of deferred maintenance. [Let’s see Mr. Smith wants ball fields... well, how about he get a home equity loan and build one. Or, can each one of us come up with our own dream and have others pay for it? Anyone wanting a new cigar boat? How about a new Maserati? Need to keep it garaged? No problem. By the 3rd reading, you can be approved for even a climatized one for it.... I’m certain another property tax assessment will make your dream a reality!]
This satire has been approved by Todd W. Frederick,
Candidate for Greenville County Council District 26