Accessibility — it’s one of the biggest challenges that consultants hired to come up with the final plan for the proposed City Park in Greenville’s west side faced when they sketched out their ideas. It’s also a key ingredient to the park’s future success, at least for the residents who live near the new park. The rub: a set of train tracks running alongside the future Reedy River attraction.
Fifty percent of the park’s edge is bordered by rail. “We have to maximize those opportunities to create additional access,” said Darren Meyer, a principal with MKSK, the Columbus, Ohio-based landscape architecture, planning and urban design firm hired by the city.
“I think the park will have a great impact as long as they address accessibility and getting across the railroad tracks,” said the Rev. Vardrey Fleming, president of the West Greenville Community Association. “That could be all the difference.”
Meyer said they are studying the feasibility of redesigning the intersection of Broad and Westfield streets. Currently, Westfield intersects with Broad at a strange angle; as a result, Meyer wants to create a stronger, more direct connection. That connection is key because it connects the new park to downtown, he said. A perimeter road is also being studied.
Plans call for remaking Hudson Street, effectively extending the park into the neighborhood, Meyer said. Today, the sidewalk on Hudson is right next to the road. Plans call for having a ribbon of wildflowers next to the road, moving the sidewalk further away from traffic to create a buffer between traffic and pedestrians and making it more inviting to families with small children to walk to the park, Meyer said. Shade trees and sidewalks will run along on both sides. “It’s got to be shady, comfortable and inviting or they’re less likely to use it,” Meyer said.
Meyer said there are no “edges” to the proposed park. “All great public parks have public frontage,” he said. “All four sides have great public streets with light and comfortable edges of activity. To the city’s credit, its approach is that they’re not just looking at a park, but how do you get to it and what happens around it. When they started, there was no preconceived notion of where the park ends and the neighborhood begins.”
Ervin McGee, who lives less than two blocks from the park site, said if Mulberry Street were extended as planned, it would activate the entire backside of the park. “I think it’s a pretty good idea if everything materializes,” he said.
Southernside leader Mary Duckett said the park would be good for her neighborhood and West Greenville. “I love it,” she said. “To see it come to this much of fruition it gratifying. It will make a big difference to our area.”