COLUMBIA, S.C. — Finlay Park has seen a lot of change over the years.
Shiquilla Dreher and Aaron McCrory remember it in its heyday.
"They used to have concerts and little activities for the kids growing up, but it's dead now," McCrory said.
The City of Columbia is moving forward with efforts to revive the park, more than a century old, with new entertainment and upgraded facilities.
"Aesthetic pieces with water features... having an amphitheater built into the back wall so the music or entertainment amplifies," Mayor Daniel Rickenmann said. "New playground. A walk around trail."
With the project in its design phase, this week Columbia City Council met to discuss next steps, recommending a plan to finish funding the $21.5 million renovation.
"A lot of projects we've done in the past, we've financed over 30 years," Mayor Rickenmann said, "and we want to start paying off projects quicker."
After already allocating $1.5 million and receiving $1 million more from the state, they're adding $8.5 million in city funds to the pot, then financing the remainder with a five-year $10.5 million dollar bond.
"That gives us the ability to use multiple funding sources, which is what we're using on here, for repayment over then next five years," Assistant City Manager Jeff Palen said in the meeting, "It also gives us... a better interest rate."
As the park changes, the city says its also working to assist those experiencing homelessness there.
"We have about 250 unsheltered homeless folks that... either can't or aren't going to some of the group shelters and other opportunities," Mayor Rickenmann said. "So, working on a solution to bring them into a sheltered environment, get the wrap-around service and be able to get them into a permanent home."
It's a step forward, Dreher said.
"I definitely would think it would be great for the community espeically if they upgrade it and make it, you know, a little bit more safe," Dreher said.
The project is expected to be completed in18-24 months.