After three years of planning, the Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU) in South Carolina plans to set up its aviation-themed playground set designed for children 2-5 years old, a swing set and an airplane shaped climbing structure by mid-June, barring any weather delays.
Since September of 2009, Kevin Stiens, Business Administrator for the City of Greenville’s Parks and Recreation Department, has been helping advise the airport on how to build a park.
“Our vision was bold and the site was bare but Kevin stuck with us. Since we have never built a park before, his expertise through the decision making process was extremely valuable,” stated Joe Frasher, Airport Director of the Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU).
“The path between these two events was long but rewarding,” Frasher stated.
Many companies and individuals have donated to the park, which opened late last fall as a free-to-use public open green space. It currently contains an educational amphitheater, paved exercise “Perimeter Taxiway” and walking “Runways” that will soon be painted to look like real ones. A Boeing 737 fuselage is currently being transformed by Greenville Technical College’s Aircraft Maintenance Technology program into a handicapped accessible park entrance.
“Greenville City Manager John F. Castile, City Council Representative David Sudduth, and Economic Development Department Representative Tracy Ramseur, among many others, had the team spirit needed to help make this true multi-organizational public/private partnership happen,” Frasher added.
The park project was conceived to accommodate the more than 10,000 school-age children who used to visit Greenville International Airport (GSP) prior to 9/11.
“They can no longer provide airport tours due to security constraints enacted as a result of 9/11. We also want to provide a community place where people can get outside and be active, exercise, play, and learn,” stated Lara Kaufmann, Public Relations Director for the Greenville Downtown Airport.
The park project committee is now applying for grants and seeking financial help to add aviation-themed playground equipment for school aged children 5-12 years old and for a picnic pavilion.
The park fundraising committee has two upcoming fundraising events planned: “Party Down For the Playground-Retro Vertigo Style” which will take place on Saturday, May, 4, and “Take Flight 5K” which will be held on Saturday, May 25.
GMU is the busiest general aviation airport in South Carolina and is a self-sufficient entity with financial strength that doesn’t rely on local taxpayers for funding. GMU is home to Greenville Jet Center, the largest FBO in South Carolina, as well as more than 25 other aviation-related businesses creating 453 jobs that annually contribute more than $35.2 million to the local economy. For more information: GreenvilleDowntownAirport.com