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Building Unity Park's Infrastructure
For the environmental engineers designing Unity Park, it’s what you won’t see that brings them the biggest sense of accomplishment.
Designers are creating a state-of-the-art drainage system to reduce floodwaters in the park and surrounding neighborhood. Instead of creating ponds to slow water flow into the river, engineers designed a system to encourage the water to infiltrate back into the original water table.
How? The short answer is soil.
To date, park construction has involved the replacement of existing soil with soil that contains a higher percentage of sand. Complementing this work will be a realignment of the riverbank and replacement of invasive tree species. A series of “benches” will also be added around the riverbank, creating more surface area for water flow during flood events.
The large parking area will play an important role as well. The City is constructing landscaped depressions filled with sandy soil and plants so that runoff will be filtered before reaching the river. Going forward, engineers would like to see the green infrastructure approach replicated citywide, as it reduces erosion, improves water quality and recharges the water table.
Revised Design for Auro Bridge
City officials unveiled a new design for Unity Park’s Auro Bridge, which will span 165 feet across the Reedy River in the heart of the 60-acre park. The bridge will be made of weathered steel, with cable railing and wood decking – a nod to the rich industrial history of the site. In the evenings, LED accent lighting will highlight the bridge’s unique architectural features.
Auro Bridge is a critical component of Unity Park, offering ADA accessible connections across the Reedy River and a unique vantage point over the restored river corridor. The 14-foot-wide bridge will feature a cable suspension system, allowing traffic along the Swamp Rabbit Trail to continue uninterrupted beneath it. The custom bridge will be built by Bridge Brothers of Atlanta at a cost of $2 million.
Construction of the bridge foundation will begin in February 2021 and construction of the bridge is expected to take place from May through July. The surrounding walkways and infrastructure, including LED lighting, will be added later in 2021. Unity Park and the Auro Bridge will open to the public in the spring of 2022.
City Shares Unity Park Tree Management Plan
partners to create a comprehensive river restoration and tree management plan.
A critical component of the Unity Park Master Plan is the Tree Management Plan, which addresses how the river restoration project and construction of the park will impact the trees located on the site and outlines the City’s plan to mitigate that impact. With the assistance of TreesUpstate, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to plant, promote and protect trees in the Upstate, the project team has identified the species of trees, assessed the health of the native trees and developed a reforestation strategy.
Of the 596 trees that were surveyed, 214 trees will be preserved and incorporated into the design. The trees identified for removal include invasive and non-native trees, trees found to be in decline or threatened by pests and diseases, and trees that conflict with the park and playground design. Approximately half of them are located within the Reedy River restoration area, where strategic tree removal is necessary to accommodate grading changes and re-establish native vegetation.
The City and the contractor will work to preserve existing trees wherever possible, and each tree proposed for removal will be verified by the City arborist before it is removed. Wood from the trees that are removed will be incorporated into the Reedy River restoration to increase bank stability, provide habitat and add visual interest.
Nearly 750 deciduous, evergreen and understory trees will be planted throughout the park to reestablish the tree canopy and provide habitat, shade and visual interest. Overall, nearly two trees will be planted for every tree removed.
According to TreesUpstate, which has reviewed and approved the plan, with proper tree installation and care, the reforestation plan will be an improvement to the existing tree canopy and will provide public health, economic and environmental benefits for generations to come.
A Park for All of Us
We broke ground on Unity Park in July 2020. The park is expected to open in the spring of 2022.
Be sure to bookmark this page and check back frequently throughout the course of the project to view video updates, drone footage and photos, and to learn more about the construction process in our builder’s blog. Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #buildunity.
- Restoration of a half-mile section of the Reedy River and adjacent wetlands
- Preservation and renovation of Mayberry Field, the historic park built by the City in the 1920s for African-American children during a time of segregation
- Michelin Green, an expansive 9-acre green space that serves as Unity Park's front door
- Three playgrounds, including the 3,600-square-foot Greenville Water Splashground
- A Visitors Center featuring a welcome center, gallery space and flexible assembly space
- The Auro Bridge, a custom-designed wooden pedestrian bridge spanning the Reedy River in the center of the park
- Meadowbrook Green, named for the historic Meadowbrook Park built on this site in 1938
- An extension of the Swamp Rabbit Trail as well as a network of walking paths