• Plan in works to strengthen downtown Travelers Rest

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    TRAVELERS REST, S.C. (AP) - A new master plan for a South Carolina city focuses on growth and strengthening the city's downtown as the "economic and cultural heart" of the community.

    The plan is for Travelers Rest. Mayor Brandy Amidon said it will serve as a guide for growth and development and "help the city be more intentional about what we want to come," The Greenville News reported.

    The City Council approved the 36-page document during its September meeting. City Administrator Eric Vinson has said the plan was initiated this past spring as an effort to take a closer look at the city's downtown core and how residents want that area to grow.

    Some of the projects in plan are already under way, including beautification and landscaping along edges of the city and plans to market the city for the first time. Other initiatives will be done as funding becomes available, Amidon said.

    A new city website - www.TravelersRestSC.com -is among the projects completed. It will serve as a focal point to the city's communications efforts, said a news release announcing the launch of the site.

    The projects in the master plan are styled as action plans under the headers of business vitality, promotion and image building, and design.

    Underneath the design element, the city addresses a need to develop a parking strategy, a public art master plan, and the re-imagining of Gateway Park as Travelers Rest's Falls Park.

    The latter recommends studying the feasibility of developing a central lake in Gateway as a green infrastructure feature for park stormwater management and downtown redevelopment.

    Adam Kelley, owner of Leopard Forest Coffee, said he hopes the plan will focus on pedestrians by improving intersections and driving more traffic away from the Swamp Rabbit Trail, which runs alongside Main Street.

    A main draw to the city's Main Street is the trail, which helps give the downtown a unique environment, Vinson said.

    Residents deemed the trail as one of the city's top assets during a survey for the master plan, Amidon said. It's currently the asset the city is working hardest on, she said.

    "We're very intentional about making sure that everything is connected to the trail, that it's treated as a linear park and that we put money to it," she said.

    The city's main concern though is growth.

    Travelers Rest is targeted for more growth partly because it is listed by the federal government as an opportunity zone for investment. The downtown master plan will give city leaders the ability to tell potential developers that whatever it brings into the city will need to be within in the plan.

    More than 2,000 people responded to an online survey soliciting input about the master plan.

    They shared their thoughts on a variety of issues, including the city's most important assets and attributes, the biggest challenges facing the city and, if they could, what changes they would make to positively affect the future of Travelers Rest over the next 10 to 20 years.

    What stood out for Amidon was "people care and they want to be involved in what happens in TR."

    "That (2,200) people took the time to fill out a survey and say what they want and what they think is kind of powerful," she said.

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    Information from: The Greenville News, http://www.greenvillenews.com

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