Despite hurdles, mayor moving forward with plan to bring furniture, games to State House

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - As Jim Reid scrolls through dozens of Facebook comments, he's noticed something unusual. It's a discussion underneath a WIS story is bringing people together, not driving them apart.

"As I say, other than the mayor, I know of no one who thinks this is a good idea," he said.

The idea is pretty simple. The City of Columbia has won a roughly $200,000 grant to decorate the State House.

"I thought it was utterly ridiculous," Reid said. "Frankly, at first, I thought it was a joke."

Beach chairs and umbrellas, stair-side tables, and a field of hammocks could soon be coming. Cornhole could be coming to the capitol lawn too, along with a life-size chess set, ping pong tables, even a putting green.

"To me, the State House and the State House grounds are technically a museum," Reid added.

Reid has rebuked the mayor's plan. So has the Department of Administration.

More recently, powerful Senator Harvey Peeler has too.

He wrote to his committee, "Unknown to us, the City of Columbia applied for a grant...and listed the State as a partner."

Monday, Columbia Mayor Stephen Benjamin FaceTimed WIS from a conference in Florida to say the project's not dead.

"This is really just about bringing families to the state capital grounds," he said. "We're going to jump through the hoops. We're going to fill out the application that any other organization would be required to fill out as well."

Whatever happens, the mayor said the Florida-based group funding the idea, won't be pulling out.

"They've made it clear to us that this grant's here. It's here to stay," the mayor said.

The mayor said if the Department of Administration can allow the Ku Klux Klan and the Black Panthers to rally at the State House, it should easily allow for his project to move forward.

In the past, he's told WIS the games and furniture won't look tacky.

There's no timetable yet but he said it would be rolled out gradually and packed up each night if the state gets on board. Meanwhile, Reid hopes the state stands strong.

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