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Simpsonville's new sidewalks create some buzz

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Mayor Eden: This is only Phase 1

By Steve Doyle

SIMPSONVILLE – Those new downtown sidewalks in Simpsonville have drawn a lot of attention – most of it praise for the change these new thoroughfares have brought to the south of U.S. 60.

Even Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty praised the city’s work. “I really like what they’ve done down there,” he said recently. “Those sidewalks and that clock, it looks really nice.”

The sidewalks had their “soft opening” – soft because there still are a few repairs and decorations to come – during Light Up Simpsonville on Saturday, and city officials said they heard lots of positive comments and saw several citizens have their pictures snapped in front of the new clock by Wiche Park.

“We had a lot of comments at Light Up,” Mayor Steve Eden told the city commission during its meeting Wednesday morning. “People liked to take pictures by the clock, and they said it really enhanced downtown.”

But he said some people also questioned why there was all of this fuss and investment for such a short strip. The sidewalks cover about two long city blocks between Old Veechdale Road and Fairview Drive.

“People say these are the sidewalks to nowhere,” Eden said. “But they haven’t seen the plan. They don’t understand that this is just the first phase. We tackled the hardest part first. It enhanced the city and addressed a serious drainage problem that we have had for decades.

“But this is only Phase I. Ten years from now, we want to be able to walk from the Cardinal Club all the way out to Dairy Queen [on Buck Creek Road].”

City Administrator David Eaton said there was still a bit of work to complete and that contractors were addressing issues such as powerwashing the sidewalks, repairing some broken concrete where a power pole toppled, painting some stripes and looking at a couple of draining issues. There is one light in which the ballast was faulty, and that was being replaced at no cost.

“We’ve ordered banners – Christmas banners – and they’ve been shipped and should be in next week,” he said. “Then we’ll get other banners for other times of the year.”

He said a ceremony at noon on Dec. 3 would dedicate the new sidewalks and signal, perhaps an end to a project that began in 2009 with a federal stimulus grant. The project cost the city a bit more than $600,000.

“This has been a long time,” Eden said, “but we can see the sunset on the first phase of our downtown.”