Saluda Riverwalk users parking on Candi Lane in recent weeks might have noticed signs about zoning and planning commission items involving riverfront property. Don’t worry. The changes proposed represent a positive for recreation enthusiasts and should improve public access.
The River Alliance is asking for a change in zoning for a tract of land owned by Dominion Energy and leased to Riverbanks Zoo. The requested change would allow for parking at 650 Candi Lane, just west of the still-unopened, but long-ago-completed parking lot and rest rooms. The requests seek permission to construct a gravel, rather than paved, parking lot on the property. Also, a variance to zoning regulations was needed because the utility infrastructure above and below that property doesn’t allow for planting of required trees on the edges of parking lots.
Even as the Saluda Riverwalk construction began years ago, everyone involved recognized the 40-space paved parking lot in the original plan would be inadequate.
Elephant in the room reminder: City of Columbia and Richland County are still SLOWLY working out the details of the official handover of the Saluda Riverwalk from the county to the city, which will operate the trail as a city park. Until that process is completed, the riverwalk officially isn’t opened and the parking lot gate is locked. But people have flocked to the riverwalk for months, parking in the right-of-way on Candi Lane. Recognizing the need, city parks workers have been maintaining the trail since spring.
Often on weekends this summer, every available spot on Candi Lane was filled early in the day, creating a traffic nightmare as drivers cruised the street searching for a parking spot. When the park officially opens, the 40 spots in the parking lot will help, but it’s clear more parking will be needed on especially busy days.
Fortunately, Dominion Energy and Riverbanks Zoo have agreed to allow parking in a separate chunk of property at 650 Candi Lane. The plan is to lay out a gravel lot that can handle 85-100 vehicles along the power line right-of-way. The new lot would serve as overflow parking, but details on the funding for construction and operation of the lot still must be worked out.
Assuming parking still will be allowed in portions of the Candi Lane right-of-way, there eventually could be 150-200 spots available for riverwalk visitors. That still might not be enough, but it’s a whole lot better than 40.
On a side note, the Saluda Riverwalk also popped up recently on the Richland County Council agenda. The county purchased private property farther west on Candi Lane in 2016 to allow for construction of the riverwalk. Now the county is allowing the property to be annexed into the City of Columbia. County Council approved first reading of the annexation proposal, which would remove legal hurdles on the maintenance of a city park outside the city limits.
And finally, my friends at The River Alliance and I have decided it’s for the best that this blog migrate from threeriversgreenway.com to a new URL, alongthegreenway.com. This never was supposed to be a product of The River Alliance, though that organization has been very helpful in getting it started. Posting on an official Three Rivers Greenway website gave the wrong impression. Moving forward, this blog will remain an information portal for users of the greenway system. As such, it will serve an advocacy role for those users, which usually overlaps as an advocacy role for The River Alliance.
I hope those of you who have read my first few efforts and learned something from them will follow me to the new site.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, my email address is [email protected].