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City gives OK to Verdae Boulevard improvements

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The Greenville City Council gave the go-ahead to spend $2.7 million of city funds to help improve Verdae Boulevard from Laurens Road to Woodruff Road, during Monday’s council meeting.

The overall project, which is not to exceed $4.1 million, will also include $700,000 in funding each from Verdae Development Inc. and the S.C. Department of Transportation.

“It comes back with time, but the whole Verdae Development is probably the crown jewel of Greenville in terms of development,” said George Fletcher, Greenville City councilman. “I just feel like the improvements they have been trying to get for six years are worth the investment by the city.”

Those improvements include increased street lighting as well as sidewalks for pedestrians and cyclists. According to the city, the design of the improvements would be in line with its “Complete Streets” initiative. The initiative, adopted by council resolution in 2008, requires the city’s Design and Specifications Manual include requirements that landscaping, “bicycle and pedestrian facilities” be included with new and reconstructed roadways.

Only Councilwoman Gaye Sprague voted against the resolution to move ahead with spending the money. She said while the development in and around Verdae is “great” it may not be the most pressing priority for city funds.

“When we spend money in public/private partnerships, our greatest successes are when we incentivize areas that need improvement and Verdae is not one of those because they have done a great job in development,” Sprague said. “We are grateful and proud of everything going on at Verdae and the city has already invested millions of dollars at Verdae.”

She said even the drafted resolution for the improvements didn’t “make the case” for the city to spend the money on the improvements. The resolution only states that “Verdae Boulevard is a five-lane road without pedestrian or bicycle facilities” and that Verdae Development has agreed to pay $700,000 of the improvement costs.

“I just don’t think that the case has been made to suggest that is a priority,” Sprague said. “All I ask is that we make a case in whatever we are doing because it is the public’s money.”

But, Fletcher countered by citing the development work already being done at Verdae as well as the potential development.

“They are looking at potentially having 10,000 residents there and you have ICAR which has great property,” Fletcher said. “Investing in that kind of an area cannot be a bad thing.”

Now, the city will begin the bidding process for the boulevard improvements.

 

Reach Matthew Clark at 864-720-1222.

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