Working together for Alder Park

We’re better together! And everyone has been working together to increase community pride and engagement at Alder Park. We heard you when you said you had safety concerns about the park. We listened when you said you wanted it to be a place you could enjoy with your family. We ask for your feedback at public meetings, and you shared it. We used that feedback to advocate for changes. And together, residents, SPD, Public Works, all of us, have worked to make the park that place where families of all kinds can enjoy the amenities of the park. And as many of us have discussed, the more we use our park, the better! The walking trail, which I’ve already seen so many people enjoying, is just the latest update at Alder Park. Please join us at Saturday at 3 to check it out and celebrate these changes we’ve made together.

Alder Park Walking Trail Celebration

Sent some notes to some of our Westwood neighbors to let them know about our upcoming celebration of the new walking trail at Alder Park. It’s Saturday, Jan. 8th at 3 PM. We’re going to walk together (it’s about 1/3 mile loop), and we’ll have some post-walk refreshments. If you haven’t been out to Alder Park lately, come check out the new walking trail, as well as all of the other improvements made over the last year. Happy new year.

Alder Park Trail

Councilman Lou Hutchings and I are excited to share that the Loop Trail at Alder Park in Westwood is nearing completion. Robbie Davis with Simpsonville Parks and Recreation told us at this week’s Council meeting that, barring any unforeseen circumstances, they expect to have our trail paved by Thanksgiving! We look forward to this latest addition to the amenities at our Park.#SimplyActive #SimplyRecreational #SimplyCommunity #SimplyHome

Senior Citizens Day

Happy Senior Citizens Day! We appreciate all of our seniors who call Simpsonville #SimplyHome. You help make Simpsonville great.

Did you know: The Simpsonville Parks and Recreation Department offers many activities for senior adults like:

🕺 Line Dancing
♠️ Canasta
✝️ Bible Study
♦️Bridge
👯‍♀️ Shag/Ballroom Lessons
💃Zumba Gold
🔠 Competitive Scrabble
♣️ Poker
🚌 Field trips to area restaurants and events

Most of these activities are conveniently located at the Simpsonville Activity & Senior Center at 310 W. Curtis Street.

And our Senior Center is about to get even better! A grant of $350,000 has been awarded to the City by the SC Department on Aging for improvements to our Senior Center. These funds will be combined with our Community Development Block Grant funding in the amount of $300,000 in order to complete kitchen and community room renovations, and expansion of outdoor space off of the community room to allow for additional senior activities, including congregate dining. The design is underway, and construction is expected to begin in November, with completion in April of 2022.

Vision + Teamwork = We Can

Back when I (and others) originally started talking about a vision for the future of Simpsonville, there were those who said “you can’t” to every idea. When they said, “where will you get the money from,” we talked about things like grant funding. I repeatedly said that you have to have the vision first. From there, you work to find the funding. Since then, we have secured grant funding for many of our projects–from the Arts Center to the trail project. It turns out, when you have the vision and a team of people who believe in it, you can.

Speaking of grant funding, a grant of $350,000 has been awarded to the City by the SC Department on Aging for improvements to our Senior Center. These funds will be combined with our Community Development Block Grant funding in the amount of $300,000 in order to complete kitchen and community room renovations, and expansion of outdoor space off of the community room to allow for additional senior activities, including congregate dining. The design is underway, and construction is expected to begin in November, with completion in April of 2022. This space will be available for use by the general public when not being used for senior activities.

Council Life: Neighborhood Parks

Sometimes being a Councilmember means spending some time at the local neighborhood park for a while to check out resident concerns. We’ve got a bit of a graffiti problem that we’ll work on. I picked up some trash that had been left out. I walked down to the creek and back. It’s really a lovely park, and it was a pretty day. All the playground equipment is in good, working condition…although I didn’t try the slides…or did I? #SimplyHome

Senior Center Updates

Check out this article in the Post & Courier Greenville about something we talked about at our recent meeting: “Simpsonville is planning a roughly $650,000 renovation of its senior center on the edge of downtown using federal development and state grant funds. At a meeting Tuesday, City Council unanimously approved the plan to use about $300,000 in federal community development funding it received through Greenville County for the project. Gracely said the city receives the funding annually, and is using a portion of last year’s distribution for the project as well. The city is in the process of applying for up to $350,000 in funding from the South Carolina Department on Aging for the remainder of the necessary funding, Gracely said.”

We Voted: Swamp Rabbit is Coming to Simpsonville!

Promises made, promises kept: the Green Line section of the Swamp Rabbit Trail is coming to downtown Simpsonville! City Council voted tonight. In 2015, I told you “It’s a no-brainer, in my opinion: we need to bring the SRT to Simpsonville, sooner rather than later” (see original blog post here: https://bit.ly/2vWwEcp). I promised to focus on getting it done because it’s good for Simpsonville and for all of us who live, work,and play here. And here we are. Finally. And the Golden Strip Trails group will continue to work to connect us to our sister cities. This is just the beginning! This section of the trail will be paid for from our Hospitality & Accommodations Tax funds, not your property tax dollars. Also, County Councilman Dan Tripp helped us out with some County dollars.

Updates from 6.26.18 Meeting

Here are some updates from the 6.26.18 Committee of the Whole meeting that you might find interesting:

 PUBLIC WORKS

Continuing to work on sewer and other infrastructure improvements on SE Main in support of the new restroom building and alleyway improvements to be constructed. I am excited that we are making progress on this project because the restrooms downtown will make spending time there much more appealing—and that’s good foe everyone!

Crosswalks downtown have been painted for improved pedestrian safety.  We have more people than ever downtown these days, so it’s important that we keep our very walkable downtown as safe as possible for our residents and visitors.

PARKS and RECREATION

Director Robbie Davis is working with Greenville County Redevelopment Authority on improvements to the Senior Center utilizing CDBG funding.  This funding is provided to the city for improvements to low-to-moderate income areas of the city. We received updates on this funding an recommendations for its use earlier this year.  This is a great way to use this money.

ADMINISTRATION

Justin Campbell has accepted the position of Community Relations Specialist with the City of Simpsonville. Justin is a graduate of Clemson University with a degree in Journalism. He has experience writing for The Tiger and, most recently, The Seneca Journal. Justin has strong communication skills coupled with excellent writing skills. He will be a tremendous asset in disseminating City information to media outlets, pushing content through social media, and working with all City departments on graphic presentations and grant writing. We welcome Justin to Team Simpsonville and look forward to working with him!

Happy Trails to Simpsonville!

1200px-us-nationalparkservice-shadedlogo418363100.pngIn my last blog post, I said that if we want to achieve great things, we have to be willing to work not just with each other and other government bodies but also with our city employees, our local businesses, local non-profits and community groups, and the citizens.  It takes all of us working together to make Simpsonville great. That’s what the One Simpsonville vision was all about.

Since I’ve taken office, I’ve seen so many examples of this ideal becoming reality.  One such example is the progress we have made in bringing the Swamp Rabbit Trail to Simpsonville.  This has truly been a One Simpsonville effort.  And no, we’re not there yet, but we’re getting closer.

Still down a man in the Planning Department since David Dyrhaug had been promoted to City Administrator, the City had struggled to make the Swamp Rabbit Trail a reality.  With the day-to-day planning responsibilities, our one-man Planning Department didn’t have the time to give such a huge project the attention this one required.  Enter former Police Chief, Steve Moore, who stepped up to the plate with his excellent grant-writing abilities. This helped us earn TAP dollars to get the project started.  We had a plan and were ready to go.  Then, there were months and months of negotiating with the Railroad, and we just weren’t able to come to a compromise that would work.  Ultimately, it seemed like all that hard work might be for naught.  Enter local businessman and long-time resident Lou Hutchings, who also stepped up to the plate.  He researched alternative solutions and brought back to the city the idea of working with the National Park Service.  He made the connection and got us started on the path that lead to the recent exciting announcement that we were one of only ten cities to receive an NPS grant.

I am and always will be proud of Simpsonville and the people who love her so much they volunteer their time, effort, and talents to help her keep reaching higher!