An advisory panel is recommending an ambitious expansion of parks in Irmo.
It proposes opening five small parks to complement the one created a decade ago in the center of town.
The new sites would be landscaped gathering spots with picnic facilities and playgrounds.
All are envisioned as anchors that enhance the appeal of surrounding areas, members of the panel said.
"It's going to give pizzazz to neighborhoods," homeowner Jean How said.
The parks proposed by the town beautification committee are on small lots either owned by Irmo or other public agencies and are located at:
- Lake Murray Boulevard and Irmo Drive
- Friarsgate Boulevard and Thames Valley
- H.E. Corley Elementary School
- A pair of sites adjoining Friarsgate Park, run by Richland County
All the parks suggested are in the center and north side of town, where most of the community's 12,500 residents live.
The main town park will re-main the hub, with other facilities providing recreation close to home, said Joan Sanford, another advisory panel member.
Town Councilman Hardy King said the panel's ideas are a guide for where to head in adding new sites for recreation.
Transforming the tracts into parks probably will cost less than $40,000 each, making the step affordable within five years, council members said.
"It's a matter of which we're going to develop in what order," Mayor John Gibbons said.
The new sites combined are about an acre, a total that is a third of the size of the main park.
Landscaping and other features will be low-maintenance so that the seven-person town parks staff can handle it, parks director Whit Cline said.
Other recommendations from the panel include:
- More landscaping at a dozen intersections and other sites as well as continuing to add it along railroad tracks through the center of town
- Creation of a pair of walking trails along creeks in the Friarsgate area. Doing that would require adjoining homeowners to grant access, an idea some may balk at for privacy and security concerns, officials said.