Concerns Surface Over Plans For Urban Riverfront Park

Some residents of Columbia, South Carolina's Granby neighborhood, near the banks of the Congaree River, are concerned about how plans to redevelop the land along the river into a new riverfront park might alter the land's natural features.

"The 74-acre, $77 million riverfront park planned on Guignard family land would be the 'crown jewel' of the waterfront district of shops, homes and offices that is planned by USC, boosters say.

But some neighbors are complaining they were left out of the planning process and the heavily landscaped park would destroy the area's natural features.

"It ain't natural or human - it's monumental," said Bob Guild, president of the nearby Granby Neighborhood Association and an environmental attorney. "It looks like the mall at Washington, D.C., rather than the banks of the Congaree River."

Guild said the university should have asked what neighbors and the community wanted prior to developing the design. A "charette" - or intensive series of public meetings - like that held prior to redesigning the city's old State Hospital campus would have been helpful, he said.

Sasaki principal consultant Dick Galehouse said the land is private, owned by the Guignard family - not the university's or the public's.

"It's an error of interpretation on his part," he said. "It's not supposed to be a state park. It's not supposed to be a path through the woods. It's an urban park."

But, Galehouse said, changes can be made as the process moves along."

Thanks to A. Lamar Calloway

Full Story: Neighbors question riverfront park plan

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