Hundreds Weigh In on Gills Creek Greenway Plans

More input from residents on the Gills Creek Greenway

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The Richland County Penny Tax Program is looking to finalize plans for the Gills Creek Greenway.

This is the second time that they have asked for input from residents living along the creek.

This comes one year after the project was initially introduced and faced strong opposition.

"You have a group of people here who support the greenway and there's some people here who very assertively and very vocally don't like greenways,” says Richland County Councilman Greg Pearce.

Program directors are trying to make sure their plans for a greenway can appeal to everyone.

In February of last year residents expressed their concern with the 4-mile greenway going through backyards, public safety and maintenance.

Some of those concerns remained on Wednesday night as more than 200 people trickled into the Dreher High School cafeteria for a two-hour input session. Dr. Walter Rolandi, who lives near the proposed plan, says taxpayer money should be used differently.
 
"We live in a town and a county that is full of potholes,” says Dr. Rolandi. “You can’t drive anywhere in this city without having your bones rattle on the streets. I want to know why it's so important to do this silly thing that we take money away from things like that."

There were also concerns that money should go towards the cleaning up of Gills Creek. Much of the creek has been polluted since the October 2015 flood.

While other penny projects have focused on the paving of roads, Councilman Pearce says the building of greenways is also part of the penny program's goal.
  
"Because it was passed by the voters in a referendum, we at least have to do every effort possible to do what the voters told us to do and one of those things was to construct a greenway."

Since last year's public meeting, plans have changed, including moving the walkway to the opposite side of the creek on the Kilbourne Road side.

A majority of people at Wednesday’s meeting were excited about the $2.2 million project.
 
"It's a great healthy way of getting to and from your business or places to get your food,” says John Green, owner of the Cycle Center in Five Points. “So commuting, exercise, I can't see how this isn't a good thing."

Program directors are expected to take a look at the comments before anything is finalized.
 
"If we make any modifications, we will have to have another public meeting,” says Councilman Pearce. “We're not going to pass anything that the public hasn't weighed in on."

If plans are finalized, then construction could begin in the spring of 2018 and wrap up before the end of next year.

To see the materials presented at the meeting, go the Richland County Transportation Penny website.

Public comments on the proposed plan are due no later than Thursday, March 9, 2017. Residents can register comments by mail (Richland Penny, 201 Arbor Lake Drive, Columbia, SC 29223), by email (info@richlandpenny.com) or by telephone (1-844-727-3669). 

© 2017 WLTX-TV


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