There’s always an easy way to identify Lisa Emily’s vehicle.
“My bike’s always on my car, practically,” Emily, part of the 61-member Greenwood WeCycle Facebook group, said.
Two years ago, a Greenville-based design firm presented city and county leaders a pedestrian and bicycle master plan that provided them not only with a blueprint of major needs, but an overwhelming fact: 89 percent of those surveyed said they wanted improved conditions for the activities.
Now, on the verge of a penny sales tax taking hold to fund $85 million worth of capital improvement projects around the region during the next decade, financing is in place to address one of the plan’s major recommendations.
“We cannot ignore the need for these quality of life projects to attract a new generation of millennials and others that demand outdoor recreation,” Greenwood City Manager Charlie Barrineau said.
Of the $5.57 million allocated for various park and recreation projects, $596,078 is earmarked to convert an abandoned railroad right-of-way from Mill Avenue through West Cambridge Park to Lander University's Jeff May Complex into a bike path, connecting Lander to the Greenwood Mall.
Officials are also anticipating making improvements from Lander to Uptown Greenwood by paving a second right-of-way from Grace Street to Cambridge Avenue East.
To fast track the process – the CPST dollars won’t be ready until some time in 2008-19 – Barrineau suggested redirecting a portion of local hospitality tax revenues for pre-development work.
“The city would need to research ownership of the former railroad right of way and seek ownership through CSX’s railroad trails and natural resources program,” Barrineau said. “As far as civil design work, the city would need to look at any anticipated drainage, connectivity, lighting, handicap accessibility and design.”
It also would require local partnerships with neighborhood associations and Lander on proposed connection points for the would-be trail.
Greenwood Parks and Trails Foundation President Billy Nicholson wrote in the application to the penny sales tax commission that an expanded trail system for pedestrians and cyclists could push the city into the minds of young families looking to relocate.
“Greenwood has the foundation and momentum to become a community where walking and bicycling are normal transportation and recreation choices,” he wrote. “Trails in other communities have been shown to be attractors for regional visitation.”
Emily, a senior public relations specialist at Fujifilm, said with incoming ventures such as Teijin – which will create 220 jobs – pushing Greenwood’s passive transportation opportunities could be an important economic development tool.
“I think it’s key to the revitalization of our Uptown area. The perfect example is Uptown Greenville, how bike friendly that community has become and how vibrant and active that is, and we need to transition from a town where we are passive to where we are actively engaged in lengthening people’s lives. I’m so committed to it that I almost wish I was in public office,” she said.
Contact staff writer Adam Benson at 864-943-5650 or on Twitter @ABensonIJ.