Greenville City Council is expected to soon consider a resolution that would commit $2 million a year for construction of City Park, the city’s signature park on the western side.
If passed, the resolution would be the first time Council has committed money for the park, a project that has already spawned development in the area and is expected to transform the west side of Greenville, much like Falls Park and subsequent projects transformed the West End.
“We’ve been working on this for 10 years. Since 2004, we’ve heard it’s coming, it’s coming,” said Lillian Brock Flemming, the City Council member whose area includes the park location in the Southernside neighborhood of Greenville’s west side. “This puts our money where our mouths are.”
A date has not yet been set for Council to consider the resolution.
Darren Meyer, principal of the Columbus, Ohio-based urban design and landscape architecture firm MKSK hired by the city to come up with a plan for the park and the area surrounding it, told City Council in October that the first phase of the park could cost $10.9 million. That estimate includes a great lawn, a “sprayground” water feature, a picnic area, basketball courts and the transformation of Welborn Street into a pedestrian promenade.
An additional $7.9 million would be needed for roadwork and bridges to make the park area more accessible to neighborhood residents and downtown visitors. First phase roadwork would include extending Mulberry Street to connect it to Mayberry Street, giving the park a connection to Stone Avenue. That would require building a bridge over the railroad tracks near Willard. Roadwork on the east side of the park would include improvements to part of Hudson Street to create a front door to the park, Meyer said.
City Council will get an update on the park project at a work session Monday afternoon at City Hall.
Mayor Knox White, a staunch proponent of the park, has pushed for the Council to bond hospitality money for the first phase of the park. White has said the city’s hospitality tax revenue is healthy enough to fund a park at a level of about $20 million and still leave enough money for other big projects in the future. He said the city likely would pay for some of the park in cash so it wouldn’t have to borrow the entire $20 million.
Councilwoman Amy Ryberg Doyle said the city is committed to the new park.
“This council has shown a true commitment to infrastructure. Parks and trails are just that — green infrastructure,” she said. “Parks are critical to cities. If designed well, parks can have inspiring art and architecture and landscape that make it unique. This plan has that. We are confident in this design team.”
Councilwoman Gaye Sprague said she supports the park but wants to make sure that committing money to the park doesn’t tie the hands of future councils to have their own priorities and projects. Sprague is also concerned about the Reedy River.
Doyle agrees, saying, “Within the park, one of the highest priorities should be the Reedy River. We have taken some steps to address water quality but we must make this a top priority.”
Right now, the city’s public works complex sits on some of the land where the park will be built. A new public works facility is under construction on city-owned land on Fairforest Way. It should be completed in the fall. Once the $25 million relocation is complete, Meyer has told the city the current site could be prepped so the space is usable and redeveloped within the park as money becomes available.