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Editorial: Old Town strolls could be walk on easier side

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The Old Town area is a vital piece of Greenwood’s economic mosaic. The cluster of unique shops and restaurants gives the city character and charm, attracting visitors from outside the city.

But once people get to the historic downtown and park, it’s not always easy to get around.

In response, a group of Greenwood residents volunteered to walk around the Old Town and figure out how to make it more walkable. Members of the group Restore Old Town Greenwood came up with a few suggestions to improve the situation. The result was a 12-page computer slide presentation.

They’d like to see the city add crosswalks, repair malfunctioning push-buttons and repaint faded crosswalk lines to make them more visible. They suggested wheelchair ramps at crosswalks and longer walk signals.

Greenwood will look at pursuing many of the low-cost ideas as part of initiatives to make the city more pedestrian-friendly and more accessible to residents with disabilities, community development services director Mark Richards said.

The study was the first that’s been done about the ease of getting around Greenwood on foot, he said. The city didn’t hire a consultant to do the work.

Restore Old Town Greenwood originally was formed to save buildings on the National Register of Historic Places that were targeted for destruction in order to widen Main Street.

The group wants to make the community more walkable and decided to start with one downtown block, Restore Old Town Greenwood board member Brad Nemeth said. In March, the group got volunteers to walk along Main Street, between Madison Avenue and Meridian Street, to look for ways to make it safer and easier to walk around, based on AARP standards.

“We saw and identified several weak points downtown,” Nemeth said. “We believe a lot can be addressed now at a low cost.”

Greenwood is considering rebuilding streets, sidewalks and other infrastructure a few years from now as part of an effort to revitalize the Old Town area. Such projects would address many of the biggest needs, such as 5-foot-wide sidewalks that are too narrow, member Travis Goff said.

A few of the suggested improvements should be put off until the sidewalks are redone. However, Greenwood can look at many practical upgrades it could make now.

While no cost estimates for the work were available, Goff said most of the ideas would be inexpensive since they could be done by city workers and often would involve little more than a fresh coat of paint.

Greenwood will consider the recommendations and look at what it might be able to address, such as while doing other projects in the area, Richards said.

No one asked the group to do the project. They took it upon themselves to do research they thought would better the community.

We offer our thanks to the volunteers who undertook this thorough and careful survey of the Old Town area. By assessing the walkability of the area, officials have a clearer idea of what improvements need to be made. The volunteers’ efforts will pay dividends in making the Old Town area more inviting.

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