ANDERSON, SC (WSPA)–The Bea Thompson Park in Anderson officially opened on Thursday after a nearly $600,000 investment in upgrades.
The City of Anderson held a dedication ceremony to unveil the new enhancements. Since 2018, officials have utilized Community Development Block Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to update the park. City officials said its hospitality and general funds were also used.
“The purpose of these funds are to improve low to moderate income neighborhoods and areas. And we’re also able to do other CDBG eligible activities like improving housing, infrastructure, economic development, and other activities that benefit low mod areas or persons,” said Erica Craft, Director of Community Development Division for the City of Anderson.
The City of Anderson has been working for years to make the space all inclusive for everyone, and now the park is filled with state-of-the art equipment.
“This is the first, I understand in Anderson County, of its nature,” Craft said.
“So today is a special day for me, but more than that, it’s a special day for the community. And one of the unique things about this park, is that it’s going to actually accommodate everybody. Kids with special needs,” Dr. Beatrice Thompson, Anderson City Council Member, Seat Five.
It’s the vision Dr. Thompson saw for the property many years ago, before the park was created and named after her.
“I was elected to Anderson City Council in 1976, and at that time, we didn’t have a lot of parks in our neighborhoods. But this particular area was just like maybe a hole in the ground, and just not much of anything. But as I begin to think about what we needed in our community, I looked at this piece of land and thought that maybe we could put something here in this community that was park-like,” Dr. Thompson said.
Now the space has interactive equipment, including sensory play areas, talk tubes, xylophones and chimes. The park also has zip cruise lines, and new cameras and lights for increased safety.
“A place for everyone,” Dr. Thompson said.
A spongy ground surface allows easy accessibility for anyone, including those with disabilities.
“It was very needed. Many years ago we had studies that were done in this area, as well as our other redevelopment areas, and we want to have healthy, safe, and productive neighborhoods. We want to focus on housing, but we also like to be able to look at the health of the community, and this allows the community access to have parks, and to be able to do things that are good and overall wellness for the community,” Craft said.
“The major improvement is again, the surfacing. It’s a pour and play type of surface. And we have new playground equipment,” Craft said.
City leaders said this is only the beginning for redeveloping parks in other areas.
“We hope that this will just be a catalyst to starting and replicating throughout our community,” Craft said. ” Long range plans, we have utilized community development block grant funds to pay for plans that would be part of a greenway multi-use path, and that path will entail running through this neighborhood and throughout other parts of the city,” Craft added.