Upper Savannah COG has won a 2020 NADO (National Association of Development Organizations) Aliceann Wohlbruck Impact Award for its involvement in the Town of Ridge Spring Town Square Plaza Project.
The Saluda County town of 910 people was able to redevelop a small parking area into a plaza to accommodate both more parking to support customers of adjacent businesses and an outdoor space for community events and festivals.
Businesses line both sides of Highway 23 and one side of the Town Square that is located between Highway 23 and the railroad line. During the day, the Square’s few parking places were quickly filled during busy times. People would park along any available spot to do business in the Central Business District.
These illegally parked vehicles and the lack of continuous sidewalks contributed to a dangerous environment for pedestrians. There was no marked crosswalk and access for those who may have a disability was limited.
The Town wanted to improve parking and make the area safer while at the same time creating an area for town events and festivals. Plans were drawn up to address the needs expressed by the elected officials, town merchants, and the public.
USCOG helped the town put its ideas into a grant application for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and that application was eventually funded in December 2018.
Work began on the CDBG project in November 2019 and was recently completed with Upper Savannah’s Community Development staff administering the project.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) assisted the Town in conducting a sidewalk survey and in developing a plan to encourage more residents to walk and be active. Upper Savannah also participated in the sidewalk survey.
Now the Town has improved and expanded parking (from approximately 25 to 46 spaces), safer sidewalks, a dedicated crosswalk, and a new venue for Town events.
The Town also has a location for a new downtown farmer’s market. A replica railroad water tank with the town logo has been added as a park feature in the plaza. The Town is also applying for a CDBG grant for a second phase of this project to be submitted in September 2020.
The award was one of six claimed by South Carolina councils of government and 79 nationally who are members of NADO. The Impact Awards program honors NADO members for their creative approaches to advancing regional economic development and improved quality of life.
These projects have made significant impacts on their regions and demonstrate the diversity of services and program delivery provided by regional development organizations across the country. The 2020 class of awardees consists of projects from 48 organizations spanning 19 states.