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Spartanburg County Parks

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The tragic miniature train accident at Cleveland Park has cast a shadow over that park and the management of Spartanburg County parks in general. This is unfortunate. Cleveland Park is just one of several fine recreational facilities in Spartanburg County. The Spartanburg County Parks Commission has done a heck of a job developing, improving, and managing the county's park and trail system and running youth programs.

I had the opportunity Saturday to visit the sprawling Tyger River Park in the western part of the county. This park will not open until September but will include, among other things, thirteen softball fields! In recent months I have also visited the North Spartanburg and Va Du Mar McMillan parks in Boiling Springs. Along with Cleveland Park these are the county's "showcase" park facilities. However, the county maintains and manages far more parks than these. About a dozen facilities fall under the county's control.

When talking about parks in Spartanburg we cannot forget about the 7,000 acre Croft State Natural Area, once known as Croft State Park. At Croft there 's fishing, equestrian activities, boating, camping, hiking, biking, and picnicking, and more!

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There are lots of suburban parks to be sure. I think the problem is the complete lack of investment in most of the urban parks except Cleveland Park, Happy Hollow Park, and Duncan Park. These tend to be the most visible to people. The suburban parks are mostly designed so that you can't see them from the road (at least not very well). But I suppose in Spartanburg, these are the way of life. There is a Parks Master Plan on the County's Parks & Rec website. Its definitely worth a look, as there are lots of cool parks being planned (like the big one on the west side).

There are so many potentially awesome parks in and around the city though- St Andrews Park (aka Pill Hill) being one of the most notable ones, since it has a creek running through the middle of it.

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I'm not really sure what's going on between the County and the Parks Commission. There's a debate over control and autonomy of the Parks Commission. A "power struggle" as the paper says. Check out the article below.

Herald-Journal article

Being a runner, I'm concerned about what this means for the future of the Parks Commission and some of its planned capital projects (like the Tyger River Greenway). The County doesn't seem to realize the importance of parks & greenways as far as quality of life goes (and not to mention the role they play in attracting people to live in our area).

Spartanburg Parks website

Edited by westsider28

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The problem is that the Parks & Rec Commission wanted to become quasi-independent. They should be under the normal operations of the County government, end of story.

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The opening of Tyger River Park has been delayed until 2012 due to construction delays and safety concerns. The article says that tournaments scheduled there this fall with still be held in Spartanburg, but doesn't mention where.

Herald-Journal article

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As long as it gets built correctly, it doesn't matter if there is a delay to me.

I still maintain that Spartanburg's parks aren't very good. We have no memorable parks, except for Cleveland Park and the Milliken grounds (which isn't even a park).

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I wasn't sure where to put this.  But anyway, the County will be making some improvements to Cleveland Park in 2014.  The playground will be rebuilt and a path will be built under Asheville Highway to Berry Field.  The fate of that baseball field is uncertain.  The County wants to demolish it (since it's unsafe) and make the area passive greenspace or a multi-use field, but residents have protested (it was built in the late-30s and has a lot of fast-pitch softball history).  Community input will be sought on the issue.

 

H-J article

 

To me, the solution seems pretty simple.  Just demolish the concrete walls and stands, leave the current field as-is, and expand beyond it.  Maybe put a historic marker.  I think it's vital to have a passive area to toss a Frisbee, etc.  That would make Cleveland Park a truly great park.  We have plenty of ball fields used for organized games.

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What makes Berry Field "unsafe"? Actually there are not enough ball fields in town and if you had kids that play you would know this. Folks are already tired of traveling out to the new fields out in Reidville. If you want to play youth baseball and live on the north side, where are you going to play if you discard Berry Field?

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I played ball at Berry Field years ago.  Everytime I drive by it now, day or night in the summertime, I never see anyone playing ball there.  If nobody is playing there, why do we need it?  I agree that Cleveland Park could be a great park if it was extended across Asheville Highway.

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WSPA said the field has been closed since 2011.  The county has a very difficult decision to either pony up $160,000 or a spend lot less and create a greenspace that can be used all year.  I understand both sides...

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The County Parks Department is holding a community input meeting Thursday, Nov. 7 at 6 pm at Cleveland Academy of Leadership on the future of Cleveland Park (particularly what people want to see in the new playground) and Berry Field.

 

H-J article

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I just went to the Spartanburg Parks website and noticed they have completely redesigned it.  It looks much better, and it's packed with information about basically every current and future park, trail, blueway, and lake in the county.  It's quite impressive.  When you have some time, look around the site (especially the Capital Projects section).  There's a lot of stuff I didn't know about.

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You may have seen the article in the Herald-Journal about the plans for Cleveland Park.  The train will be removed and the tracks replaced by walking paths.  That's a shame because the train has been running for so long, but I can totally understand.  After what happened there, they basically had no choice but to remove it.  There will be a "reflection garden" dedicated to those who were affected by the train accident.

 

There will be two playgrounds with rubberized surfaces underneath: one for 2-5 year-olds, and another for 5-12 year-olds.  They will build a path along the creek under Asheville Highway to connect to Berry Field.  There, part of the outfield wall will be removed to create a multi-use field, and walking paths will be added as well as new bleachers and bathrooms.

 

I heard that they are still working with SCDOT on the underpass, so I think they will start with the playground improvements on the Cleveland Park side first.  Once the underpass is approved, they'll work on Berry Field.  Only about half of the required funds have been allocated currently.  They'll be asking County Council to commit more funding soon (in FY2016 budget).

 

I love the plans.  They are essentially exactly how I had pictured the improvements.  I think this will be a year-or-more process, but I can't wait for it to finally get underway.  Here are some photos of the plans:

post-24605-0-59759300-1409882964_thumb.j post-24605-0-83388400-1409882966_thumb.j

Edited by westsider28

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So, it will be one more boaring, generic park, nothing special for kids today or tomorrow who had nothing to do with the accident.

I guess they can go to Greenville to ride a train, minor league game, water park, sky walk, concert, etc. Spartanburg continues to loose features that made it a great place once upon a time. Some Cities operate amusement parks with roller coasters, ferris wheels etc, but Spartanburg can't operate an amusment train (some hub city this is) in 2014.

I had a cousin and a best friend killed on I-26, maybe we should close the interstates. People have been killed at the downtown airport, maybe we should close it too. Airlines crash, no more flying!!!

I understand the need to remember the ones hurt and Benji in that terrible accident, but learn from it and make corrections. I don't think removing the train is the right thing to do.

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You may have seen the article in the Herald-Journal about the plans for Cleveland Park.  The train will be removed and the tracks replaced by walking paths.  That's a shame because the train has been running for so long, but I can totally understand.  After what happened there, they basically had no choice but to remove it.  There will be a "reflection garden" dedicated to those who were affected by the train accident.

 

There will be two playgrounds with rubberized surfaces underneath: one for 2-5 year-olds, and another for 5-12 year-olds.  They will build a path along the creek under Asheville Highway to connect to Berry Field.  There, part of the outfield wall will be removed to create a multi-use field, and walking paths will be added as well as new bleachers and bathrooms.

 

I heard that they are still working with SCDOT on the underpass, so I think they will start with the playground improvements on the Cleveland Park side first.  Once the underpass is approved, they'll work on Berry Field.  Only about half of the required funds have been allocated currently.  They'll be asking County Council to commit more funding soon (in FY2016 budget).

 

I love the plans.  They are essentially exactly how I had pictured the improvements.  I think this will be a year-or-more process, but I can't wait for it to finally get underway.  Here are some photos of the plans:

attachicon.gifcp bf.JPG attachicon.gifcp pg.JPG

I like the plans but like another poster, am saddened by the decision to remove the train.  I, like other youngsters, fondly remember riding on it.  It was an iconic part of Cleveland Park and will be missed.  Spartanburg Parks has chosen to be completely "risk-averse" and are making the park just another green space, I feel.

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County Council has yet to vote on the plan (I think they will on Sept. 15), so you should certainly contact county council members if you think the train should remain.  In the H-J article about the public drop-in, there were several people who lamented the train being removed.  Perhaps if council hears enough support for the train, they'll decide to keep it. 

 

To clarify: I would really like them to keep the train, too.  But you can't blame the County too much for removing it; they took a LOT of heat after the accident.  There were some people at an earlier meeting who said they would do anything it takes to make sure the train never ran again.  Not saying it's logical or reasonable, but that's the situation.

 

I agree that, in general, people have gotten a lot more sensitive about these types of things.  They're demolishing the entire school where that shooting took place in Connecticut.  I don't really understand that mentality, but then again I've never been personally affected by a tragedy like that.

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I think they should keep the train, too. The issues with that crash are training-related, not the actual train or the track. It's completely possible to idiot-proof that thing and install other safety barriers to prevent something like that from happening again.

 

That said, if the County decides to remove the train, the plan itself is pretty solid. I'm glad that they are going to tie in Berry Field too.

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County council vote was yesterday.  The train will be removed.  It's a bummer, but I'm really looking forward to all the other improvements.  The park has been in limbo for too long, so at this point I'm just glad that renovations/improvements are moving forward.

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Cleveland Park renovations will start this Fall.  The large new playground will be built in October and open by November.  I was disappointed to read that completion of the whole Cleveland Park / Berry Field project will take three years!  The total cost is about $2 million.  You can find a PDF (large file size) of preliminary plans on this County Bids website I found (first Attachment A of Bid # 06-16).

Also, Holston Creek Park near Inman is coming along.  The first phase is on 25 of the park's 150 acres and includes two baseball fields, a multipurpose field for soccer and football, a picnic shelter, restrooms, a 150-vehicle parking area, an 18-hole disc golf course and a walking trail.

On the County website mentioned earlier, I also found that they're bidding out engineering services for the "Pacolet River Passage Gateway Project."  It looks really cool (PDF here), and could really help make Pacolet a (river) recreation destination.

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