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Families rejoice! The City of Greenville has implemented a $2.8 million improvement plan to update its city parks. Cool new equipment, new bridges and landscaping, and dare I say it? Every mom’s dream — brand new restrooms at three parks!

In addition to making the parks more fun, the city is also addressing environmental concerns related to the streams and rivers in these parks. Residents can track the progress on a designated website at https://www.greenvillesc.gov/1389/Parks-Projects.

According to the website, a total of 11 parks are receiving new playground equipment. Other infrastructure improvements affect a total of 24 parks, and those upgrades include projects such as improved lighting, railings and resurfaced parking lots.

Many parks already feature their new equipment. I would consider one of the highlights to be the new zipline at Gower Estates Park. So far, every time we’ve been to Gower Park, kids have been enjoying the new zipline, probably the most unique and cool piece of park equipment the city purchased. (Gower fans, no worries. The tank is still there!) Although named a “zipline,” safety-wise, the equipment is less like the “real” ziplines that require a harness and are more like monkey bars. The kids step up on a small platform to grab a chain and place their feet on a disc. Then, they scoot along a short track to a low platform, where they can dismount and then scoot back the other way.

Juanita Butler Community Center at 2 Burns Street is the other park to receive a zipline as part of the plan. The city website can be a little confusing in that the parks at Juanita Butler do not have separate names from the Community Center, but there are actually three playgrounds at this location. At Juanita Butler, a concrete pad in disrepair was ripped out to create a new playground. Now there is a playground in the front of the facility, rather than around the back. Existing play equipment here remained intact.

Gower Estates Park, Timmons Park, and the Wenwood Soccer Complex are receiving new restrooms. Many parks like Legacy, Holmes and McPherson already had new restrooms in place.

More: Mom: Poinsett Park in Travelers Rest is a favorite

Other projects are still underway, such as the installation of a new miniature golf course at McPherson Park, and work will run from October to December 2018. Plans at McPherson also include removal of one bridge and renovation of three other bridges. An initiative to improve the cleanliness of Richland Creek is an extensive effort which will take more time. The City of Greenville website offers more information about the ecological considerations at McPherson park.

Other projects include resurfacing eight basketball courts and eight tennis courts. At Timmons Park, two tennis courts will be converted to six pickleball courts. Field lighting improvements will take place at Gower Park, Holmes Park, North Main Park and Timmons Park.

Of course, the centerpiece of Greenville’s parks is Cleveland, and these improvements are separate from the master plan for Cleveland Park, the oldest, anchor park in Greenville, predating Falls Park by many decades. The city hired MKSK, a local landscape architecture, urban design and planning firm. MKSK’s role is to review how the park is used by residents and how to better utilize it, said Meri Steinbach, parks director for the city.

The consultants noted that Cleveland Park “isn’t riverside park; it is a park that happens to have a river running through it,” Steinbach said.

As someone who frequents the park herself, Steinbach hadn’t noticed how minimally the Reedy River features in Cleveland Park’s design. Not capitalizing on this natural feature is a missed opportunity, and one major goal will be to highlight the Reedy as a focal point, she said.

The city seeks additional input from Greenville residents themselves at community meetings scheduled throughout the year, said Steinbach.

One portion of Cleveland Park, however, is already under redevelopment: the land known as Cleveland Park Stables. This parcel of land is on the end of the park near the Julie Valentine playground, and it is across Woodland Way. The stables are now gone. The Friends of the Reedy River nonprofit group assisted the city in obtaining a grant to make this a passive recreation space with ecological considerations such as rain garden and reintroduction of native plants and creek bed restoration.

A wide, open lawn space will be encircled by a walking path loop along part of the riverbank. The project will expand Cleveland Park by five acres.

Upcoming updates

The city’s plans for new playgrounds involves the following parks:

  • Gower Estates Park
  • Holmes Park
  • Juanita Butler Community Center
  • McKoy Bacon Park
  • McPherson Park
  • Newtown Park
  • Pinckney Fludd Park
  • Railroad Mini Park
  • Rockwood Park
  • Skyland Park
  • University Park
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