Developed Greenwood bike trail seen as economic magnet for city
By: ADAM BENSON
Combined, this summer’s solar eclipse and Festival of Discovery pulled in more than $3 million in economic impact to Greenwood.
With some planning and targeted branding to a rapidly growing cycling market, seven-figure returns from visitors can become annual occurrences, officials said Friday in promoting a pedestrian and bicycle master plan that’s turning into reality on the strength of 2016’s capital project sales tax initiative.
“We are trying to draw in people from the seven counties surrounding us, so why can’t we use cycling to do that,” City Manager Charlie Barrineau told business and civic leaders at the Greenwood SC Chamber of Commerce's Morning Blend. “All you’ve got to do is keep your eyes open and realize cycling is growing in our community and nationwide.”
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.
Of the $5.57 million allocated for various park and recreation projects through the penny sales tax, $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 Greenwood Mall.
Prioritizing investments in the development of recreational trails for walkers and cyclists puts Greenwood in a growing number of communities across the state taking that step, Barrineau said.
“I go to my own state municipal association and what is on the cover of their summer magazine? Cycling,” he said. “All these cities are trying to wrap their hands around it because they, like us, understand this is going to be a driver to our economy.”
Lisa Emily, a member of WeCycle, a Greenwood Facebook group that brings cyclists together, said riders across the region are eager for new trails and riding opportunities.
“You'll have the economic impact of the eclipse all throughout the year, you'll have the economic impact of the Festival of Discovery without six months of planning and thousands of hours of blood, sweat and tears. It’ll be there,” she said.