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A few early signs of springtime are beginning to show in Bamberg and local officials are forecasting that the downtown park project is expected to bloom in the coming months.

“The project is going forward,” said Bamberg County Administrator Joey Preston recently. “Over the winter we saw delays due to Covid and shipping issues but that is changing.”

The park under construction off U.S. Hwy. 601 in downtown Bamberg is set to include a stage, lighting, walking paths and parking area.

After several shipping delays “the stage has now arrived in Bamberg,” said Preston. He said project engineers, the local building inspector and electricians have been meeting on the site to plan the next steps.

“We hope to have the general contractor work done by mid-May,” said Preston. “Landscaping will be installed after that and road work will then follow. It’s a layered process.”

The C-Fund committee has approved funds to be used for road work leading to the park. “Those funds can’t be used for a parking lot but it can be for streets,” said Preston.

He said he is hoping the park will be ready by early summer.

The park is the first phase of an overall downtown revitalization project that is a partnership between the City of Bamberg and the County of Bamberg. It has taken several years of planning but now the project is expected to bloom this spring.

Just as a plant sends out tendrils, construction will also feature a new walking trail that connects the downtown park with the Veterans Park, future development of the Ness Complex, and other locations nearby.

The area had been the site of several buildings which were destroyed by a fire in March 2019. The two governmental agencies coordinated to remove the remains of the buildings. The county then obtained ownership of the lots and the project moved forward.

The first phase of work is being funded with the help of a grant of almost $50,000 from the state Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department’s Park and Recreation Development (PARD) Fund. Preston said the county and city have worked with the local state delegation (Rep. Justin Bamberg and Sen. Brad Hutto) and Bamberg Public Works to get to this point.

Another phase of the revitalization plan includes the creation of a welcome center and tourism building in one of the downtown buildings.

Enhanced parking, renewal of the local theater, a museum and a market area are all part of the larger vision for downtown.

Preston said the county has acquired the former “Grand Central Station” on Heritage Highway which will be converted into a commercial kitchen and market. He said he is working with another community which has already installed a similar project. “We are taking advantage of their experience to hopefully avoid any roadblocks they encountered,” said Preston.

Also part of the project are enhancements to the Ness Recreation Complex. The total vision of the project includes upgrades of the basketball courts, several baseball/softball fields with seating and concession area, multi-use sport fields and walking trails.

The Ness Complex is currently located along Rhoad Park Street. Work has yet to begin on that phase of the revitalization project.

For additional information, please contact the Bamberg County Public Information Office at info@bambergcounty.sc.gov.