Finlay Park in store for a multimillion-dollar facelift

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Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 10:40 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Finlay Park was once the jewel of Columbia, where families would gather and spend the day.

Today, it sits dilapidated.

But the city council has approved a multimillion-dollar plan to give it a significant makeover.

The once-beloved water fountain at Finlay Park is barely spewing water but plans to revamp the park are bringing the water fountain and park amenities back to life.

“It used to be fun, it used to be all kinds of events out here, and more playful stuff out here for the kids,” Penelope Huff, Columbia resident.

Penelope Huff is remembering the glory days of Finlay Park.

She says, “It used to be running water. The water falls down there, the water would fall on the steps. It just used to be a lot of nice stuff out here.”

WIS spoke to another resident, Jerry Cooke who now goes to a new park but says he used to take his children to Finlay all the time.

“We had a great time,” said Cooke.

But those days came to a halt because of the pandemic. Finlay Park is now made up of porta potties, a colorless playground, and the homeless.

Cooke says, “So, with it being downtown, and kind of the premiere park, it gets to be a concern when it gets to the shape that it’s in.”

“Covid-19 really slowed us down on getting to a place of revitalization, but now we’re back there and we’re moving forward, we’re really moving forward,” said Henry Simons.

Assistant City Manager Henry Simons is referring to the approval of a 21-million-dollar budget for renovations.

That came from the city council during Tuesday night’s meeting.

He says, “So, they graciously approved the bonds for Finley Park to be funded. It has been fully funded, but this is the first step in moving forward in the project.”

Renderings show what city leaders want to turn Finlay Park into.

There are plans for the famous water fountains to be up and running again, a new bridge that crosses the pond, and much more.

“New restroom facilities, revitalizing the water fountain, new splash pad, new destination playground, strolling grounds. I mean it’s going to be phenomenal when we’re done,” said Simons.

Simons says the renovations will turn Finlay Park into a true family space again.

As for controlling the homelessness issue there, the Columbia Police Department says they’ll add routine foot patrolling to the park.

A spokesperson for the department says officers will be patrolling for any ordinance violation such as urban camping or visiting the park after hours.

They will also send outreach staff providers if officers run into someone who needs additional services.

City leaders are looking to break ground on the renovations sometime in July.

After that, the Assistant City Manager says once a contractor is chosen, it’ll take about 15 to 18 months for the renovations to be completed.

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