Amenities on track at Spartanburg rail trail park

June 13th 2017

"Amenities on track at Spartanburg rail trail park"

Published by the Spartanburg Herald Journal; to see the full article, click here.

The first amenities for a 7-acre community park along the Mary Black Foundation Rail Trail are nearly complete.

The finishing touches are being put on a trolley-like pavilion with seating to serve as the entrance to the park, called The Rail Yard, on Forest Avenue. Plexiglas panels with historic trolley photographs already are inside the structure, and a board for posting community announcements will be added.

The pavilion was built by Spartanburg artist Kevin Belue and funded by the Group of 100, a group of donors that funds Spartanburg beautification projects.

“The idea was to give some acknowledgement to history while beautifying the area,” said Jeanie O’Shaughnessy, a member of the Group of 100. “We wanted to recognize the history of the trolley in that spot and educate people about the history of the area.”

In the early 20th century, Spartanburg’s trolley system had a line that traveled from Clifton to Glendale to downtown Spartanburg by way of Old Glendale Road.

“The trolley (pavilion) is on the same track as the old trolley,” said Dick Crenshaw, a member of the Group of 100. “The tracks underneath the trolley used to take people back and forth to town.”

Over the past year, Spartanburg-based Partners for Active Living and the city of Spartanburg have solidified plans for the park, located between Forest Avenue and Country Club Road. When finished, the park will be owned and maintained by the city.

Laura Ringo, executive director of Partners for Active Living, said the park provides a much-needed recreational space in an area considered a “high need play desert,” meaning there are no playgrounds or similar amenities within a half-mile.

“We hope this park will serve the more than 100,000 users of the rail trail and the surrounding community,” Ringo said.

To date, Partners for Active Living has raised nearly $1 million for the park and its features.

Amenities that are currently under construction include a fitness station with equipment paid for by Milliken & Co. and an exercise pad funded by Altrusa and White Oak Management. Both should open this month, Ringo said.

“If people are along the trail and want to stop, they can do pull-ups, cardio and other exercises,” she said. “The pad can be used for yoga or stretching.”

In early fall, a mountain biking course, previously planned next to the Hot Spot Skate Park, will be built at the Rail Yard in partnership with the Coalition for Active Youth.

Ringo said another $150,000 needs to be raised for the biking course, which will be designed to accommodate riders of all skill levels.

The Rail Yard also will include an amphitheater with terraced seating and a stage; a great lawn with picnic areas and a multi-use field; open-air tree houses; a water misting station; bike racks; paved and natural trails; a designated dog area; a Spartanburg Water bottle refilling station; a bathroom facility; and an NFL Play 60 obstacle course.

The obstacle course will be Carolina Panthers-themed and the first of its kind in South Carolina. The course is described as a combination of the NFL Scouting Combine and American Ninja Warrior.

A recent grant from JM Smith Corp. will help fund the obstacle course, but an estimated $200,000 still is needed, Ringo said.

“Late elementary and early middle school kids, specifically, we think will be really excited about the NFL Play 60,” Ringo said. “Our community has great playgrounds for young children and we hope the rail trail park adds something for children who’ve outgrown some of those playgrounds.”


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