Gower Park // Image courtesy of Google Maps
Greenville’s neighborhood parks will get some much-needed attention after an agreement was reached with Greenville County to share some of the tax money generated by the reorganization of the county’s recreation department three years ago.
Greenville will get $577,843.67 of the $1 million in recreation funding Greenville County will share with municipalities. The money must be spent on recreation.
The city’s parks and recreation department evaluated 34 neighborhood parks and found a laundry list of needs – from new fencing to tennis and basketball courts that need resurfacing and restrooms that need repair to play equipment nearing the end of its useful life. A cost estimate wasn’t immediately available.
In the city budget that took effect this month, $350,000 is earmarked for neighborhood parks. The City Council’s neighborhood parks committee will make recommendations on a maintenance and repair plan, said City Manager John Castile.
What the staff found at Holmes Park on Twins Lake Road is typical of the needs of the city’s neighborhood parks – baseball field bleachers need to be replace, the tennis court surface is cracking, the picnic shelter’s roof and concrete need attention, stairs and handrails don’t meet code, grills need to be replaced and some of the poles for the baseball field fencing need replacement.
At Gower Park, the basketball court needs new nets, the playground equipment needs to be replaced and new restrooms need to be built.
Fifty-eight percent of city residents live within a half-mile of a park or community center. In District 1, which encompasses the North Main and East North Street area, 67 percent of residents are within a half-mile of a park. That falls to 42 percent in District 4, a more industrial and commercial part of the city that includes Gower Park, Legacy Park at Hollingsworth and the Wenwood Soccer Complex.
The Greenville County Recreation District had operated as an independent special-purpose tax district covering the county outside of the boundaries of the county’s six municipalities.
But in June 2013, the district’s facilities and programs were incorporated into county government.
That meant residents of four municipalities – Greenville, Mauldin, Greer and Simpsonville – had to pay additional taxes. Travelers Rest and Fountain Inn residents were already paying taxes to the recreation district.
In addition to Greenville’s share, the county agrees to pay $148,257.15 to Mauldin, $111,937.53 to Greer, $105,247.09 to Simpsonville, $28,463.95 to Fountain Inn and $28,250.62 to Travelers Rest.