Richland County broke ground today on the new Crane Creek Pedestrian Park and Nature Center, and began turning the vision of community residents into a reality.
Improvements being made at the site, located at the intersection of Crane Church and Walter Hills roads, are part of the County’s master plan for the Crane Creek community, which was approved in 2010. The park is scheduled to open in the spring.
“I am very excited to see Richland County move forward with the master plan projects for Crane Creek,” said Richland County Councilman Torrey Rush, who represents the area. “This process has been successful in bringing citizens from various neighborhoods together to chart a new direction. This park is something new and vibrant for our citizens, and I’m excited about the potential and future it brings.”
The Crane Creek community is located in central Richland County, just north of Columbia and Interstate 20. It encompasses seven existing neighborhoods – Bookert Heights, Crane Crossing, Crane Forest, Haskell Heights, Lincolnshire, Pine Forest and Rockgate. Residents welcomed the project at Thursday’s groundbreaking.
“I’m extremely happy this is being done in our community,” said Peggy Boyles from the Bookert Heights neighborhood. “I’ve lived here for 42 years, and I’m so grateful to see something new and so positive come here for us.”
The park and nature center is Richland County’s first major construction project to come from master plans that have been developed by communities and the Neighborhood Improvement Program, said Richland County neighborhood planner Tiaa Rutherford. She credited Crane Creek residents for their work and dedication while the master plan for the community was being developed.
“This all began with the vision of citizens,” she said.
Residents in the area who attended the event expressed gratitude for being a part of the process.
“We’re proud of it and we’re happy for this new park,” said Hainsley Lewis from Lincolnshire. “The best thing about this project is this came directly from our community.”
When the project is complete the pedestrian park will feature a walking and jogging track, which will be a quarter-mile long and five feet wide and made from recycled rubber, and the nature center will be able to accommodate 25 to 30 people. The project’s design calls for a new neighborhood-friendly entrance and a brick column entryway and landscaping off of Walter Hills Road. The park also will have light posts and park benches that line the walking and jogging track. Other components of the renovation project include new landscaping along Crane Church Road, new trash receptors, five covered picnic shelters and barbecue grills, as well 70,000 square feet of sod and irrigation.
“This is exactly what we need in this community,” said Lee Edens, a neighborhood leader in Lincolnshire who lives a little more than a block away from the new park.
Corley Construction was awarded a $471,000 contract to build the park, and Brownstone Construction + Design is the management firm overseeing the project. Officials from both companies confirmed the project should be completed by April.
“From day one, I’ve been looking forward to this project. We have always wanted to make sure the park and nature center fit the neighborhood, and it wasn’t just a copy from some other project,” said Anthony Lawrence, executive vice president of Brownstone.
Eugene Mickens, who lives in Bookert Heights said the pedestrian park will be a great resource for neighbors. “I will appreciate having this walking trail here,” he said. “You better believe I’ll be using it.”