Parks & Recreation
There’s a certain magic in a public park. A place where you can go to not only enjoy the camaraderie of family and friends, but also to enjoy the delight in being not lost, yet not quite found. During the public comment period of a recent council meeting, Mr. Sandy Cruickshanks spoke of his memories of the Pine Street Park and how important it was for him during his childhood. He also spoke of its current condition, and the importance of restoring it to the park he remembered it to be.
Many of our best memories as children were formed in parks like Pine Street Park. As Sandy so eloquently stated to council last month, it’s vitally important that we develop and maintain our park system in Clinton. As a child, I also lived next to a large park, which provided my brothers and I many afternoons filled with outdoor activities.
Former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley attributes a huge portion of his city’s success to its park system, and not only the larger parks like Marion Square and Battery Park, but also the many pocket parks that are scattered throughout the city.
As Mayor Riley said, “If the heart of the city is strong, then the city will be strong, and our parks are an integral component in the overall health and economic growth of our town.”
Outgoing Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols was also a strong proponent of parks and recreation development during his time as Rock Hill’s Mayor. Many of you may not know that Rock Hill has the only velodrome east of LA, which is used for Olympic qualifying.
Parks can take on many sizes and shapes, from the smallest plot of land with a few benches and a couple of picnic tables, to a park with ball fields and playground equipment. Each of them are different, but each of them provide our city with an improved quality of life and source of community pride.
Dr. Kendra Hamilton of Presbyterian College knows how important a park is. She, along with First Baptist Church and Friendship AME Church, and many others created a small community garden on South Bell Street, bringing together people from all over Clinton to plant and grow a garden. It’s been going strong for two years now and many families have been fed from a little plot of land that used to sit vacant.
The City of Clinton currently operates seven parks for the enjoyment of our citizens and visitors, all scattered throughout our city, and providing space for outdoor recreation, organized sporting events, and public green space.
In 2015, after speaking to Congressman Jeff Duncan and Representative Mike Pitts, the City applied for and received for the first time a $35,000 PARD grant from the state of South Carolina for improvements to Josh & Ella Savage Park on Willard Rd. and the Lydia Mill Park.
Those renovations included resealing and repairing the basketball court at Josh & Ella Savage Park, the removal of damaged plastic bordering at the Lydia Mill Park and replacing it with a cement trail border, and also replacing playground equipment at Josh & Ella Savage Park. We were also able to repair and resurface our other basketball courts located at other parks throughout our city with this funding.
The city also applied for and received a grant from the SC Recreational Trails Program to begin construction of the Miller’s Fork Trail, which will be constructed over three phases. This grant provides funding for phase 1, which will include the trail entrance from West Corporate Center Drive, trailhead and trailside signage, ADA accessible gravel parking areas, and one-half mile of ADA compliant natural and prepared trail surfaces with pedestrian bridges and boardwalks where necessary.
From the trailhead and upper hiking area, the Millers Fork Trail will pass by a terrace overlooking a scenic creek (an unnamed tributary to Millers Fork) before reaching a picnic area in an open field adjacent to Millers Fork. From there, the trail user can take a northeastern or southeastern route.
The northeastern route follows the course of the stream as it passes through a large culvert underneath West Corporate Center Drive. A pedestrian bridge or boardwalk will be constructed above the existing sewer line to allow users to easily follow the trail under and beyond West Corporate Center Drive. The trail continues to follow the scenic stream toward I-26 until it loops around a grouping of trees near the interstate.
I, as mayor, appreciate Mr. Cruickshanks comments, and encourage all citizens to bring their concerns before our council. We WILL listen! I’m proud of our town. Serving as mayor is one of the greatest honors of my life. As we continue to work together to improve our community in every way possible, let’s strive to make our city parks the best in the state!
(Bob McLean is mayor of Clinton.)