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Spartanburg Parks Plan

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Lets take some time to talk about parks in Spartanburg. What are your favorites? Why?

I think this is important because I had been thinking about how crappy our parks are in Spartanburg, but when I got to thinking about it, while many of them are, we have a lot more gems than I give us credit for. The City and the County have their own things going on, so I'll address those separately.

Mine are as follows:

  1. Happy Hollow

    Its probably the smallest park in Spartanburg County, but I used to play in it when I was little, so fond memories and the fact that it is a great community/family oriented park makes it a great asset for Spartanburg.

  2. Cleveland Park

    When I was young, you generally did not go here, except to ride the train. That thing was and still is the best part about the park. They have done a lot of work to make this a premier park in the City. Too bad the nighborhood around it is still somewhat sketchy.

  3. Milliken

    This is not a park, but it acts as one, and its probably one of the best in the County. You can play ball, feed the ducks, pic-nic, whatever. The Parks designers need to hire Milliken to plan for the next ones.

  4. Barnet Park

    The City wants this to be the premier park for festivals and what not. I like it for that reason. I've gone there with friends before during off times, but its just not the "park" like atmosphere you want in the middle of a city. They need to expand it somehow to bring in the Milliken and Happy Hollow aspects.

  5. Dunan Park

    Not the Ballpark, but the park itself. It includes a historic national landmark, a lake, nature trails, connections to the devleoping greenway system in the county.

  6. Andrews Farm Park

    This one is cool nice creek running thorugh it. Well used. Lots of space. Locally knowns as "Pill Hill" for "some reason." Hmm...

I bring this issue up becuase 1) I'm interested to know what you think about our parks, and 2) becuase the County is considering a hospitality tax that would help fund our parks. The City parks are now separate from county ones, if memory serves. So, this brings up the question, what parks are there that are managed by teh county? I'm wasn't aware of any, but apparantly there are quite a few. All of the ones I mentioned above are in the City, and to the City's credit they have done a good job with rennovations, and more are in the pipeline.

Specifically, $1.5 million in 2009 for a new Westside Park, and the new skate park on Union Street next year, and then other improvements to the many other parks in the City. Where the city is lacking is in the smaller parks that are scattered around.... there just aren't very many good ones. Schools become the defacto parks (which may or may not be a good thing)

Here is a fun fact from the HJ:

Spartanburg County invests less per capita in public parks and recreation than any other large metropolitan area in the state: about $29 less per capita than Richland County; $26 less than Lexington County; $21 less than Charleston County; and $8 less than Greenville County, according to the Web site for the parks and recreation commission.

Greenville County has enacted what appears to be a comprehensive and well-developed parks plan. Spartanburg needs to at least keep up if we want to compete with Greenville on at level. Quality of life is a big deal, and parks play a big roll in that.

So, with all of that in mind, have you checked out the proposal by the Spartanburg County Parks and Recreation Commission?

They have planned to use the hospitality tax to build six new projects initially:

  1. Va-Du-Mar McMillan Park (Boiling Springs area)

  2. West Spartanburg Regional Park (Duncan area - not to be confused with the City's Westside Park)

  3. Holston Creek Regional Park (Inman area)

  4. Pacolet River Regional Park (Cowpens-Clifton-Pacolet area)

  5. Trail Development (Tyger River)

  6. Waterway Acquistion (Tyger River)

Here is the rendering for West Spartanburg Regional Park:

westspartanburgregionalparkrenderin.jpg

I highly reccomend that you check out the SCPRC website and read more detail about the plans and let us know what you think!

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[*]Andrews Farm Park

This one is cool nice creek running thorugh it. Well used. Lots of space. Locally knowns as "Pill Hill" for "some reason." Hmm...

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Its a good plan for these parks. I especially like the water park planned for the Westside. Spartanburg needs to offer more to its citizens and this is a good start.

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County Council is set to vote on final approval of the hospitality tax tonight. That means the County will probably have additional revenue to build some new parks and maintain/improve existing ones. As it is today, the best parks are in the city, and even those aren't much right now. I'm looking forward to seeing the impacts of this tax realized, and probably in short order. The parks plan is very ambitious, and I think that its a solid step in the right direction for Spartanburg County.

If you are reading this and aren't in favor of an additional tax, I will point out that the City of Spartanburg, City of Greenville, Greenville County, and all of the other major counties and cities in South Carolina have this type of tax in place. If you go to eat or shop in Greenville- you are paying for their parks. And if you've been over to Fall Park in downtown Greenville, you can clearly see what its done for them. This tax allows us to benefit directly from those who visit our county- and there are more than you expect coming from all surrounding counties.

Again, I highly recommend that you check out the Spartanburg County Parks and Recreation Commission website and read more detail about the plans.

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The sunset clause was voted down.

Two quotes from Councilman Mintz to prove my earlier point:

  • "I certainly, again, favor the hospitality tax," Mintz said, "but I also think that this bond should be sunsetted at the end of 20 years."

  • "Mintz added that he was opposed to investing more money in parks and recreation than in the county's roads, bridges and infrastructure."

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but was Mintz not opposed to the $25 road fee too?

Fortunately some of our council gets that all taxes are not bad, and that you have to pay for stuff like this as a community.

Article

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The Parks Commission has approved $30,000 towards a market study for a water park. There was no indication of where this water park would go, but i assume thats part of the plan. My guess is somewhere on the west side.

HJ Article

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The location is Reidville, which is a little to far West to me. Maybe they want it close to the Simpsonville Park so it will compete better. I think closer to the Westside or Boiling Springs would be better for most of Spartanburg County residents.

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I agree. I'd like to know the reasoning for choosing Reidville. There's nothing out there. The ideal location would be closer to Roebuck, IMO.

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The former director of the National Parks Service came to speak in Spartanburg recently. His speech was, naturally, about how investing in parks leads to economic development. Great parks will improve land values in neighborhoods and encourage businesses to locate in our city. This is a no brainer, and he makes some great points about what parks do for the community.

The best nearby example of this is Falls Park in Greenville. I'm sure most of you have seen it. Its a great park. Greenville invested $13.5 million into that park, which is a lot of money. But in return there has been $135 million in investment around the park- mostly in RiverPlace, but in other projects nearby as well.

Spartanburg does not have a river, but that is no excuse for not having a signature urban park or two. Cleveland Park and Duncan Park are my favorites around town, but neither of them are downtown. They have both seen sigificant reinvestment in recent times. Cleveland Park used to be the ugliest most run down park in Spartanburg, and now its one of the safest and most beautiful.

Even beyond urban parks, Spartanburg County needs to do a better job of preserving its natural land. Organizations like SPACE and Upstate forever are working toward that end, but creating a large public natural heritage preserve is key, IMO. Croft State Park is a good example of this. We need something similar to that to the north, ideally near Boiling Springs or Inman. Otherwise our sprawl will choke us and force us into a suburban nightmare from which we'll never escape.

Article

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If I am not mistaken, there is plenty of water in downtown Spartanburg by way of springs that have simply been tapped off. Professon and environmentalist John Lane (also writes Kudzu Telegraph for Sptbg Journal) wrote in one of his columns about there being a huge spring underneath the old Spartan Grain facility that had been capped years ago. He wrote that you could run a waterway through town, around the Marriot and Barnet Park and simply have it merge with Lawson's Fork Creek at some point possibly behind the old Piedmont Natural Gas building. There are added spings along the way that could be used to help supply the waterway. Of course you would have to dig the waterway but this is where the hospitality $$$ could come into play.

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Thats a good idea. It seems like the mayor had mentioned something like that a few years back.... but much less grand. Basically create a park there with a huge water feature. Downside to that is the Grain mill isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Your idea is much more original though, and quite intriguing. I can envision a small stream that sneaks around town under roads and pops out in random places. It would be an engineering feat, but it would be a very cool thing for our city. Where would you suggest that the route go?

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I think you would run it underground until you got it to where you wanted it basically to avoid comgestion and having to build a bridge or two. Say you ran it underground until you got to the Marriot, Chapman Cultural Center or CCC, and Barnet Park and then bring it above ground there and create a canal type system where it could snake behind the Marriot & CCC, then come around to where Barnet Park is. From there it could head towards Lawson's Fork or into town via Converse Street.

I will try to find that article by Lane as it had more details.

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the study commisioned for the water park suggest that I-85 access would be the most profitable and likely location for a water park. They suggested looking around the Hwy. 129 interchange. This is not the cheapest option because the parks and rec. don't own any land there, but they seem to think that could be overcome in visitor counts.

ARTICLE

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I think they need to go with one of the planned park sites if they're going to build a water park. I also think that if Greenville is having trouble supporting a water park, that Spartanburg will have the same problems. I don't buy the notion that its been because of the weather patterns.

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Has anyone seen pictures of the water park in Spartanburg yet? I havent been able to find any on the internet?

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The Spartanburg Herald had an article with photos last week about the private water park in Duncan opening this Friday. Its rather small and not the same one the county proposed. The County park will be much larger if it gets built. A layout was on the Spartanburgcounty.org web site showing the basic concept, but its likely to change. Our family is keeping its fingers crossed that it will be done as proposed, but with this economy we'll have to wait and see.

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I expect that the Parks & Rec Dept is hurting for money with sales tax revues being as low as they are.

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Has anyone seen pictures of the water park in Spartanburg yet? I havent been able to find any on the internet?

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It's just a lazy river and a slide. I hope they have expansion plans.

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It's just a lazy river and a slide. I hope they have expansion plans.

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