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October 24th, 2018
By Barry Nocks, Professor Emeritus, Clemson
A public controversy over proposed development along the Reedy River near downtown in 2000 led the City and County Councils to ask Clemson University for assistance to create a plan based on an open, public process that would identify desired uses and characteristics along a 16 mile corridor of the Reedy River from its origin north of Travelers Rest to Lake Conestee. I directed the planning process for Clemson University.
A series of 15 public meetings were held in various sections of the river corridor during 2001 and additional input was obtained from many effected parties regarding land development, economic development and environmental protection. Brad Wyche, Dave Hargett and a number of UF constituents were heavily involved in providing input to the plan. The City of Greenville adopted the Plan in 2002 and the County accepted the Plan shortly thereafter.
The basic goals of the plan were to create many opportunities for access to the river, protect water quality, reduce flooding and provide recreational and development opportunities in and around the river corridor. As a result, land use character, trails and specific development projects were proposed in the plan. Many of these have been built and are highly successful, including the Swamp Rabbit Trail, River Place, and various mill renovations and other developments along the river. Travelers Rest took full advantage of the opportunities for economic and recreational development provided by eliminating the railroad track that bisected its main street and encouraging shops and restaurants along the trail in the former rail right of way.
In short, the plan provided a clear framework for coherent development along the 16 mile corridor, integrating a number of projects to the river area: the Conestee Foundation’s park, Falls Park, downtown projects, the future park west of downtown (the proposed Unity Park), recreational trails and revitalization of Traveler’s Rest. Public support by UF and other environmental groups along with neighborhood and development interests were vital to its adoption and influence.
The implementation of the plan and the remarkable renewal of the Reedy River Corridor are the result of many people and organizations working through the political, economic and social networks to take the consensus concepts of the plan and make them a reality. The Reedy River experience is an example of how planning can work, where the community and a variety of stakeholders work to bring ideas to fruition and then continue to monitor and improve the situation.
Barry Nocks is a Professor Emeritus of City and Regional Planning at Clemson University.