Civil Rights in Columbia

March 28, 2014

Concrete benches, tables added to Secession Park stir conversation

Concrete benches and tables added to Secession Park have caught the eye of a number of residents, some of whom want them gone.

Concrete benches and tables added to Secession Park have caught the eye of a number of residents, some of whom want them gone.

The two tables and five benches added early this week join two benches already in the passive park at the intersection of Craven, Church and Bay streets.

The tables and benches were purchased for $590, plus delivery, from Steel Creations of Cheraw, city public works director Isiah Smalls said. They were requested by the park superintendent.

Sandy Johnson, who owns Secession House overlooking the park, asked during Tuesday's City Council meeting that the benches be removed. She said she asked before about the benches when she saw them in the city's budget and was told they probably would not happen.

The benches are not historically appropriate, and give her the impression Secession Park will be a "picnic park," she said.

Johnson said the city needs to instead plant flowers and plants to beautify the park, the maintenance of which is "inferior" to other city parks.

Resident Edie Rodgers backed her up and suggested more appropriate, comfortable benches with backs be installed and the concrete benches taken elsewhere.

"If we still have a shortage of funds, I'll donate something more appropriate," she said.

Smalls said any decision to move the benches would have to come from the city manager and City Council. However, he said, not everyone agrees the additions are an eyesore and some have asked that they remain.

"We have gotten several calls this morning about how wonderful the tables and benches are and if they will remain," Smalls said Wednesday. "They thought it a shame and 'should not be removed because two individuals didn't like them.'"

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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