Debate Over Possible Changes To Greenville Town Common

Big changes could be on the way to the 21-acre Town Common along the waterfront in Greenville and it is spurring debate.

The city envisions a bustling area that is not only an open park, but also a center for business and living.

It could be a real transformation for that part of downtown Greenville.

Conceptual drawings were unveiled in late January. After giving folks some time to mull over the plans, we hit the streets to get their reaction.

While still in the discussion stage, the drawings show housing areas, hotels, and other buildings as possibilities. ECU student Ronny Chakrn isn't a fan of the idea. He says, "I love coming here you know, it's the only park next to campus. We come out here and we run, we jog, we enjoy the river. You know, I think we need a park around campus and I definitely think they should keep it the way it is."

Other residents like Freddie and Lillian Outterbridge are even more concerned with the potential additions. They say it's one of the few open, outdoor spaces in Greenville. Lillian says, "We don't have another place that size for that purpose. So it really concerns me."

Community Development Director Merrill Flood says the renovations would be done for two main reasons: To generate revenue for the city, and to increase activities in and around the area. Flood says some of the additions would include A memorial to Sycamore Hill, providing some mixed use opportunity like retail and housing, as well as play space, and museum space.

The majority of the developments would occur on the south side of First Street. Flood says for the most part, the green spaces would remain the same. That's why they're describing them as renovations to the First street corridor. Flood says preserving green space is still a top priority. Flood says, "I think the council's goal would be to keep as much open space as possible so, I think the council sees this as an important asset."

There are those who favor the possible changes. Willie Greene has lived in Greenville all of his life and says he likes the addition of a museum. "Mumford Road over there, they have a museum also. And it's nice, it's very nice. Here, it would improve a whole lot, especially right here."

He says he likes the Town Common the way it is, but feels if renovations were made, more people would take advantage of what the park has to offer. Greene says, "I mean, there's a lot here. And if we can improve this place a little bit, build more, it would be a nice place for people to come."

But Freddie Outterbridge says just because the city is growing, doesn't mean the Town Common should be the next place to gain revenue. "We have to be Greenville, and I guess, visualize what this area can do for the people in this area."

For now, Flood says they're just plans to get the idea out there. The city would make the final call in the future. Flood says, "I think the concepts that are shown are just that-they're concepts. They're not etched in stone."