Work on the first phase of the City of Bamberg’s master plan for downtown revitalization, including the development of a walking park with green space and small stage for community events, is continuing.

The first phase has included the creation of a veterans park on a vacant space on Main Highway that had been the site of blighted buildings that were destroyed in a massive fire in March 2019. Bamberg County and the City of Bamberg coordinated the removal of the buildings, and the county obtained ownership of the site to provide for the property’s rehabilitation and use.

“The veterans park is almost finished. They had put in the sidewalks. Now they’ve lined them with bricks. The next thing is the stage will go up, and then we’ll do landscaping. So it’s looking really good,” Bamberg Mayor Nancy Foster said.

Bamberg County Administrator Joey Preston said the first phase will be funded with the help of an approximately $55,000 grant from the state Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department’s Park and Recreation Development Fund. The site has been cleared and first-phase work has included the installation of drainage and connection to the city’s water system.

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“It’s going fine. The hardscape is pretty much almost finished. The lights are being installed around the park phase of it. I think within the next couple of weeks, signage will be going in, and then all of the landscaping will go in. After that happens, then the curbing will go in for the parking lot,” Preston said.

The administrator continued, “Then Moore Street is going to be resurfaced this fall. It’s being bid out with several other C-Fund projects. Then the Board of Public Works comes in and installs the lighting along that street.”

“What I’m excited about is the partnerships with everybody that is involved with trying to get something going in the county seat. You got to have the support of the city, and the mayor’s been real supportive,” he said. “The city’s supposed to be replacing those lights that were damaged by the fire and that railing that was damaged by the fire.”

Preston said the county has also been working with its legislative delegation members, state Sen. Brad Hutto and state Rep. Justin Bamberg, on the downtown revitalization project.

Foster said, “The city has also purchased two buildings across the street from the park that we are going to restore into some sort of tourist destination, maybe a welcome center or a gift shop. We don’t have all the plans for that yet, but the buildings have been purchased and we’ll start working on that.”

The mayor continued, “The streetscape downtown will probably be the last phase with putting some parking back on the street. We’ll have to work with the highway department on that, but we need to finish some of these other things before we get to that.”

Foster re-elected mayor of Bamberg

There was $150,000 set aside for a welcome center and tourism building in Bamberg as one of the projects included under a capital projects sales tax referendum approved by Bamberg County voters in November 2018.

“Then we had some 1-cent monies, $125,000, to do some things on the west side of the walking trail along the railroad berm. We’re getting bids on that to restore that walking trail. We’ll put up some lighting,” Foster said.

The mayor said additional grant funds and new investors are being sought to continue the downtown project in phases.

Preston said, “When it’s over with on the park side of it, what you’re going to see is something that’s as neat and attractive as what’s around the courthouse annex.

“It’s kind of the first phase of trying to improve the area to make it more attractive so that hopefully we can get some downtown businesses to invest there in addition to what we already have there. There’s a little bit going on down there now, but this is certainly going to have some curb appeal which will help it,” he said.

Preston said the stage on the backside of the veterans park will be a place where the city and county can have “concerts, outdoor events and gatherings.”

Bamberg County and the City of Bamberg have partnered to create the downtown revitalization plan for which the Lower Savannah Council of Governments was able to secure the services of North Charleston-based Stantec Consulting Services. $5 for the first 20 weeks

“What we’re doing is part of that master plan,” Preston said, noting the county has applied for another grant to extend the walking trail from the County Veterans Memorial site further down the railroad berm.

That phase of work has not yet started.

“We’re trying to tie the downtown back over into the Richard Ness Sports Complex. It’s a trails grant that’s administered through PRT. It’s a grant to extend the Veterans Memorial trail further down the street. There’s a little street down there called Veterans Street that’s a cut-through that takes you back over to the Ness Complex,” the administrator said.

Foster has said the city and county are “trying to tie it all in so it’s one big trail.”

Preston said the county is also applying for grant funds through the state Department of Archives and History to stabilize two downtown buildings.

“We’re applying for some money to help stabilize them and put a new roof on so that we can put that back in use and hopefully attract more businesses into downtown,” he said.

The administrator said enhanced parking, renewal of the local theater, a museum and a market are all part of the larger vision for downtown.

Stantec is also assisting the city and county on a recreation master plan, which is also included as part of the downtown revitalization program. The plan is to include upgrades to the basketball courts, several baseball fields with seating and concession area, multi-use sports fields and walking trails.

Preston said the county is also working with Denmark Technical College regarding the renovation and expansion of their athletic fields to have all of them available for tournament play.

“We’re going to be talking to Voorhees, too, about the possibility of some of their property which is adjacent to that. We all work together to attract regional softball, baseball and soccer tournaments,” he said.

“All this even ties into the signage at Denmark Tech. We’re working with Denmark Tech to put really nice signage out on the main highway out there,” Preston said.

Foster said she is excited about the future of downtown and beyond.

“We have a lot of partners that I’m very thankful for. The Bamberg Board of Public Works has been very gracious and generous. The county, of course, has just been tremendous. Things are happening, and I think it’s going to be attractive when it’s finished,” the mayor said.

She continued, “It’s a big vision, as well, and a slow process. I know people want it to happen faster, but we just have to listen to our contractors and do what they tell us to do. We’re as anxious as anybody else to complete it.”

Preston said, “Everything we’ve ordered is in: the lamp posts, the stage, flag poles, the sign. So it’s just a matter now of making sure that we got some good weather.”

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5534. Follow “Good News with Gleaton” on Twitter at @DionneTandD

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