COLUMBIA, S.C. — A long-awaited $18 million plan to revitalize Finlay Park, currently in its design phase, could get $1 million from this year's state budget to move the project forward.
The 18-acre park has fallen into disrepair. It's 27 foot tall spiraling fountain centerpiece has sat broken for the past several years.
“When it was developed, it was an award winning park and it was a jewel," said Columbia city councilman Howard Duvall.
The proposal includes a renovation of the fountain, a new events stage, new restroom facilities, a refreshed children’s play area, and updated walking paths.
"It will be an attraction that will bring in people from all over the Midlands," said Duvall. "It is one of the best parks we have in the city, and we need to make it look like and operate like the best park."
The master plan for Finlay Park was first unveiled in 2019. Last year, Columbia city council approved a $1.5 million dollar contract for the pre-construction and design phase for the project.
Now, Richland County State Representative Beth Bernstein is asking for $1 million dollars in the state budget to put towards the project.
”It is money that will be necessary to be able to get the park back to what its intentions when it was first planned," said Bernstein.
Josiah Hodge visits Finlay Park weekly and said the park is fine the way it is.
“$18 million can be put to a lot better use, and I don’t think making the park better is gonna solve the problems we’re currently having," said Hodge.
Duvall tells News 19 the city is now seeking out funding opportunities for the remaining $15 million.
“We have some hospitality taxes beginning to come in better again, so we’ll have some of that money. We have the American CARES act money," said Duvall.
Duvall expects the final design to be done by the end of the year. The city hopes to break ground by early 2023, with renovations completed in 2024.