Rescue the Reedy: Proposed development threatens the beauty of Falls Park

Rescue the Reedy

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By Anna Kate Hipp , Stephanie Norris, Suzy Haynsworth and Lezlie Barker

The first place proud Greenvillians take our guests is to Falls Park for the spectacular view from our own internationally acclaimed Liberty Bridge. Looking at the rapids, the cascading waterfalls and the banks and boulders of the Reedy River, we share in the natural beauty and serenity of this urban oasis.

The chronology for the now 24-acre park surrounding the river had its beginnings in 1967 when the Carolina Foothills Garden Club, partnering with the Greenville Planning Commission and Furman University, deeded six acres to the City of Greenville for our now world-class Reedy River Historic Park.

In those 50 years, the river has been a focus and a passion of the Carolina Foothills Garden Club. As the community worked together to create and develop the park as we know it today, several notable accomplishments are significant: the park’s inclusion in the National Historic Registry, the demolition of the Camperdown Bridge freeing the falls, the generous support of the city and our community as plans for the river and the park were refined, the establishment of the Falls Park Endowment and the construction of the Liberty Bridge.

This journey has been deliberate and passionate. While the Carolina Foothills Garden Club was among the first to urge for the expansion, refinement and implementation of the park, the project has been an endeavor supported by all facets of Greenville. When we hear people say “our park,” it is a collective, all encompassing “our,” the positive result of a dedicated, environmentally sensitive, forward-looking citizenry.

The campaign slogan “Free the Falls” successfully grew community support for the removal of the original Camperdown Bridge. The bridge came down, the park was expanded and the Liberty Bridge was built. Now, imagine standing on the Liberty Bridge at sunset in the near future. The existing trees on the far bank of the river have disappeared, replaced by a four-story building with the afternoon sun reflecting off the exterior of its façade. Gone is the tranquility and cool serenity formally encompassing our widely admired “view from the bridge.”

This scenario is not idle speculation.

There is now a proposal before the city to construct an office building on this acreage, 55 East Camperdown Way, directly in the view line of those on the Liberty Bridge and looking up the river. While the developer has met “legal regulations” for construction under current code, the building will block the gateway arch underneath the historic Main Street Bridge and become the view from the Liberty Bridge.

The regulations and zoning laws of the city are outdated. When enacted, it was impossible to envision what Greenville would boldly and imaginatively become today.

We are for development. We applaud and are proud of our city’s remarkable growth and renewal that followed the removal of the old Camperdown Bridge that freed the falls. The development of Falls Park, its gardens and wide expansive lawns that we all enjoy today took years of careful work.

There are positive options for compromise.

One option would be to deed the small parcel of 55 East Camperdown Way property to the city or a nonprofit organization and put it into a perpetually safe designation. The property values would be a contribution resulting in a tax credit to the donor.

Secondly, the present owner could sell the parcel to an interested party with the agreement that it would become a safe buffer to the river and never be developed. The buyer would donate the property to the Falls Park Foundation and receive a tax credit.

Thirdly, the City could purchase the property, preserving and protecting the banks of the Reedy River in the park.

We’d also like you to remember these words from Mayor Knox White in the Oct. 5, 2014, issue of The Greenville News: “Our city is firmly established as a tourists’ destination for the first time. But the greatest legacy of Falls Park is the new pride we share in our city and the belated recognition that the Reedy River is indeed our greatest asset. Downtown Greenville’s future as a distinctive, vibrant and livable urban center will be shaped by what we do next along its path.”

We now find our greatest asset is at a tipping point. Which direction will we go? Let’s continue to be the city that hears the voices of all who share the vision that has made Greenville the wonderful place we all share and enjoy today. Let us join together and make a conscious effort to think outside of the box about how we can save this last tiny, but vital, piece of land that lies along the banks of the Reedy River and is the calming entrance and tranquil focal point to literally tens of thousands of people who stand on the Liberty Bridge each year, walk through our park and marvel at what our small town in South Carolina has accomplished because we work together and share our pride of place.

Please join us in our effort to “Rescue the Reedy” by writing city council members and attending city hall meetings and Design Review Board sessions. Visit the Rescue the Reedy Facebook page for more information, upcoming meetings and updates.


Anna Kate Hipp, Stephanie Norris, Suzy Haynsworth and Lezlie Barker are members of the Carolina Foothills Garden Club.

What Do You Think?

13 thoughts on “Rescue the Reedy: Proposed development threatens the beauty of Falls Park”

  1. I said as soon as I saw the announcement that this structure is a terrible idea. The City approved it because they are all about the taxes it will generate and have forgotten the mission and importance of Falls Park. So sad

  2. ” Let us join together and make a conscious effort to think outside of the box about how we can save this last tiny, but vital, piece of land that lies along the banks of the Reedy River and is the calming entrance and tranquil focal point to literally tens of thousands of people who stand on the Liberty Bridge each year, walk through our park and marvel at what our small town in South Carolina has accomplished because we work together and share our pride of place.”

    Agree!

  3. As resident of the downtown area for 20 years I am very disheartened by what I consider the over developement of our downtown. I believe we are loosing the very thing that has attracted people to Greenville and it’s downtown. The number of condos and large buildings are going to end spoiling the beauty of the area.

  4. This part of our downtown is the charm and tranquility that those that live here enjoy and it would be a HUGE travesty to let it go!!!!! The park should be given to the city!! Make your money elsewhere!! I am sure there is plenty of land to build another freaking office building. The families of Greenville need this not a developer! This is what is wrong with our country… Take.. Take… Take!!

  5. The city has an obligation to stop any problem that would endanger the enjoyment of the park and the city. There must be a way. There should be an evaluation of all adjoining properties to the park. That evaluation should be relevant to preserving the integrity of the park and how it relates to preserving the beauty surrounding the park.

  6. This site-55 E Camperdown Way – is the location of Richard Pearis’ home. It should be preserved if for no other reason than that!

  7. Why would channel 7 use the word criping when some are opposed to building so close to the river
    That proposed building is ugly and to object is not griping it’s stating an opinion and hopefully begin a discussion

  8. Thank you. We need clear voices at the right times- to alert us that it is time to speak up and protect things and places that are in the crosshairs. We have already made some rough decisions that neighborhoods will have to live with forever- like Stone and Main.
    No more nonsense. We should know by now what is truly valuable about Greenville.
    Hint: it’s never an office building.

    Don’t sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate.

  9. It would be criminal to throw away all the years of hard work and commitment to our beautiful city, for some high priced office space. I hope and beleive that Greenville is about more than the need for prestige of the few…..and about the enjoyment and enrichment of many!!!!!

  10. Having watched the transformation take place since the early 70’s, I feel it would be criminal to place a private building in this land. This would ruin the parks tranquility for all. Too much time and effort has been spent to rejuvenate the area for all.

  11. I love my beautiful hometown of Greenville. My father, Ned Arndt was instrumental in the beginning revitalization of our now vibrant downtown. He would be so pleased. But, I am alarmed at the rapid rate of growth and contracting out of state for development. We are starting to loose our charm and what makes Greenville unique. In the blink of an eye this jewel of the state will become another jumble like Atlanta. The folks that truely love our Greenville must band together and protest the blind greed taking over and protect our jewel, our home.

  12. I strongly agree with the article in Sunday’s paper that we can not allow office buildings to start filling up the Reedy River Park that makes downtown Greenville so popular and loved by it’s residents. We must stop the latest office building plan be stopped and keep that very special park the way it is! What is going to stop them for filling it up with more and more homely buildings stripping the residents of their beautiful respite and all the fun the kids have there…

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