PICKENS — After securing nearly $900,000 in grant money, ground was broke on Friday morning for the Doodle Park, an area for rest and recreation at the Pickens end of The Doodle Trail.
“When the cities of Easley and Pickens first purchased the railroad, creating the trail itself was never supposed to be the end of the project,” said Pickens Mayor David Owens. “But it did (construction) happen faster than we expected.”
City and County officials, local politicians and community leaders all grabbed a golden shovel to kick start the latest development in the trail: Doodle Park.
“This is going to be a great park for not only local people but for people all over,” said Owens. “We’ve had studies done and people come from different states — all across the states — across the water, we’ve had people from oversees … a lot of people are using The Doodle Trail.”
Owens said the total cost of the project was $1.15 million, but that $895,000 was paid for in grants secured in part by Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Grant Manager Jill Francisco Morales.
“About two years ago, with their neighbors in Easley, the city broke ground on the trail behind you there and now, here we are to celebrate the next phase of re-development,” Morales said. “What you see here has really been years in the making — it didn’t happen over night.”
Morales called the success of the trail a “true testament to the city of Pickens” and attributed it to the city’s leadership and the dedication of community organizations.
“Without all of that, this could not have happened,” she said.
The completed trail and Doodle Park is expected to not just be a nice recreation area — but a force to help drive the local economy.
Earl Gohl, federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), echoed Morales’ statements.
“You know, ARC doesn’t just give away these grants to be ‘good guys’,” said Gohl. “We see them as investments and as opportunities to work and engage with local communities. We see a future.”
This work isn’t just incidental to your community, it’s a part of building a stronger future for your community, he said.
“This isn’t just a park, this has the opportunity to be part of your economic future — an engine for a growing community,” Gohl stated. “ARC is very pleased at this investment and very pleased to be a part of this.”
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.