The old CPW water plant at the corner of Grace Street and S.C. 72 bypass has for many years been the subject of discussion over the property becoming a park for Greenwood. That vision is becoming closer to reality.
The Greater Greenwood Parks and Trails Foundation has worked for over 15 years to make the Grace Street Park a reality. The group is now closer than ever, with work beginning on the first phase of the project.
The first phase consists of retaining the existing upper pond with site improvements to enhance the shoreline, a wooded area down Merrywood Drive, a playground, a dog park, restrooms and a pavilion. Crews have begun surveying the property and more crews will begin clearing trees in the near future. Billy Nicholson, president of the Greater Greenwood Parks and Trails Foundation, says the first phase of the project could cost about $300,000.
The second phase of the project would include an outdoor amphitheater, removal of the second pond on the property, the addition of an artificial stream and remodeling the main structure of the water plant for a purpose to be determined at a later date. There is no cost estimate for the second phase of the project.
Both Nicholson and Natalie Parramore, chairman of the Greenwood County parks Commission and prime mover behind the West Cambridge Park, agree that a referendum for an additional 1 percent on sales tax to be used for parks would be ideal.
“I think, for us, we would like to see a referendum for the penny tax,” Parramore said. “It has to be voted on and approved by the people, but if we can gain enough momentum I think we can get it done.”
The subject of costs associated with the park has long been a contentious issue among city and county leaders. While the penny tax could be used for constructing the park, it cannot be used for maintaining the park. Members of Greenwood City Council are concerned about the maintenance costs and who would pick up the tab for those expenses with local governments facing increased economic strains and shrinking budgets.
The planning for the park has been an entirely volunteer-driven effort up to this point, as was the West Cambridge Park project, which took nearly five years from beginning to end. There are plans to install shade sails over the equipment at that park, but costs have prohibited that project from moving forward. There are also plans in the works to put a new park on the south end of Greenwood, possibly on the corner of S. Main Street and Foundry Road. The communities involved in that park effort have been meeting to determine the best way to approach the project.
While parks have been a seemingly contentious issue in Greenwood over the years, Parramore believes that, once there are parks for the citizens of Greenwood to enjoy, all that contentiousness will go away.
“People that haven’t grown up with parks don’t understand the value of parks,” Parramore said. “Once they can begin enjoying the parks they will see that is a good investment in a community.”
Grace Street Park Master Plan