COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Columbia City Council voted unanimously today to open up negotiations for the re-development of Finlay Park.
The company who owns the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte contacted the council to show interest in the property.
For many Finlay Park is considered a hotspot for the homeless, and a haven for crime.
Columbia City Council is trying to change that.
“That’s something that we try to address every single budget year,” said Councilman Moe Baddourah. “Every single week that we work.”
The city opened up the floor to accept development proposals for companies who may want to redesign the park for other purposes. The company that owns the US National Whitewater Center threw their name in the ring.
“We have one company we want to focus on to try and get the best deal for the city of Columbia,” Baddourah said. “The company that’s trying to work the project or propose the project to enhance Finlay Park with maybe some development as in condominiums or apartments.”
But council members say we’re nowhere near the end of the road as far as planning goes. Tonight’s vote only allowed the opportunity for the City Manager to negotiate with the company.
Council members say the revitalization of Finlay Park would spark growth in other areas in downtown and should fit hand-in-hand with other revitalization projects they’re working on throughout the city.
“It’s fallen on hard times now,” said council member Ed McDowell. “What we want to do now is invigorate our city. And in so, invigorate the park.”
Folks who live near the park say they cautiously optimistic about the potential plans, and understand that there may be a give-and-take if residential development is on the table.
“What we want to see is that we still have a park,” said Jonathan Comish, who lives nearby. “If we have to give up some of our green space, that’s okay, but we don’t want to give up all of our green space.”
Council members say as this moves forward, the topic will be open to public input as things move forward.