GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – Greenville’s Unity Park will open on Thursday, and major preparations are happening now to get things ready.
“The last couple of days we’ve been putting in finishing touches. Really just kind of get ready for the general public to be here. So, just kind make sure things are safe for the public, as well as touching up, pressure washing all the sidewalks, making everything clean,” said Ben Rotherham, Site Superintendent for Harper General Contractors.
One family said they are happy about the park’s opening.
“We are really excited. We will be here on Thursday to help the grand opening,” said resident Lyndsey Grimes.
“After school, it’s such an easy walk. We can come here ride our bikes,” Grimes said.
“Well, we also live in the community, so it is really important and it’s somewhere hopefully everybody feels welcome and they can come and connect and forged new friendships,” she said.
Rotherham said roughly 50 of the 60 acres will open this Thursday.
“So on Thursday, kind of the big thing that’s going to be opened up is this north side. So, we have three bridges that will be all open to the public. We will open up the Auro bridge on Thursday as well,” said Rotherham.
“All four playgrounds will be open, including the splash pad,” Rotherham said. “So everything on the north side of the river will be open. Everything on the south side outside the baseball field area, will be open to the public.”
Pastor Stacey Mills, of Mountain View Baptist Church, will emcee the event. He said he’s excited about the future.
“After a century of planning and dreaming, we stand in something that’s come into fruition. It stands to be a bridge builder for our communities. Establish sense of belonging for people from all ages to all demographics in our community,” said Mills. “This really does speak of a serene moment for our city to reflect and to think about the future – what can be.”
“I think the Reverend Holloway was one of those who petitioned the city government in the early 1900’s to suggest that this side of town needed something for recreation – for open peaceful mediation, where kids can play safely,” Pastor Mills said.
“I mean today, the energy that’s in this park with getting it ready, but then on Thursday, that energy will be times 10,” Mills said.
Pastor Mills said churches have formed a West End Community Choir to participate in Thursday’s grand opening. The city’s spokesperson confirmed Mayor Knox White requested the churches in the area to partake in the events.
“So you’re going to find an ecumenical multi-ethnic, multi-racial choir singing about this beginning, and quite frankly I’m honored to be a part of this process,” Mills said. “And to be able the table to hold people accountable for the promises that have been made for this community.”
Some said the park’s name alone, has a good meaning.
“I think it really does symbolize an opportunity to live up to the promises that America has given to its citizens,” Mills said. “And of course the black demographic has suffered tremendously with the lack of the promise being delivered on, and this gives a space for reflection, but also creates opportunity for pressing forward–digging in. This side of town is historic.”
“The Southernside community welcomes this new park and infuses new life, and we hope that everybody will see this as an opportunity to come together,” Mills said. “For me, I think it really signals belonging–thinking about who belongs.”
“I personally live up the road, over in the village, and I think the community as a whole is just really excited about it. It’s a park that anyone can play in. It’s a park that’s open to whatever you’re doing,” Rotherham said.
Representatives said Mayor White and Auro Hotels President and CEO DJ Rama will take the first steps across the Auro Bridge, which is Unity Park’s largest bridge spanning the Reedy River near the center point of the park, on Wednesday at 10 a.m.
The park’s grand opening is set for Thursday at 10 a.m.