Guignard Park is revitalized for all generations to enjoy thanks to the unification of the City of Cayce along with grant and city funds.
The city held a grand re-opening Saturday with repaired trails, new picnic tables, a ping pong table, stabilized banks and a refurbished irrigation system. There is also ADA compliant parking for all people to access.
“This park is really the heart of the city. It’s this great park in the main part of our corridor,” said Cayce Mayor Elise Partin. “My kids have grown up playing in the creek. We want the next generation to do the same thing. The way the creek bed was eroding and the way the tree roots have gotten under some of the sidewalks, we knew we needed to address it and stabilize the creek bed and make sure sidewalks are ADA compliant.”
Partin thanked a list of people including Sen. Nikki Setzler, Rep. Kenneth A. Bingham, city staff, Parks and Rec maintenance, AOS Specialty Contractors and The Landplan Group South for making this project a success.
“For our vision, we have a great city already. We have a strong foundation. We are just taking care of what’s here and as a council that’s what our responsibility is. We have a stable population and want to make sure the next generation wants to live here as well and to have these unique recreational opportunities,” Partin said.
Looking back, moving forward
For many years the park was deeded to the city from the Guignard family. Seventh generation Guignard family member James Guignard was at the grand re-opening and revisited a family history.
“I grew up here. I played on this street every day of my life. It was a beautiful place then and look at it now. It’s a place welcome for all people. People come here for lunch, to job. It’s just a great place,” said Guignard.
Guignard descended from Gabriel Guignard who escaped France and the persecution of the Huguenots. Young Gabriel went to Amsterdam and eventually made it to Charleston where he made money shipping out Carolina Gold rice. Guignard relayed a history of Gabriel’s son, John Gabriel, who became a surveyor general who laid down the streets of Columbia in a square block pattern.
Guignard’s strong family history continues to live on with the refurbishment of an iconic park.
An exciting time
Council and city staff are excited about this renovation and about what Cayce has to offer overall. District 1 council woman Tara Almond was married in Guignard Park 10 years ago on Saturday.
“We had our biker friends and a poker run. The weather was beautiful just like it is today. It’s still a beautiful and quiet spot,” said Almond, reminiscing.
Almond is also glad that people and millennials are returning or moving to Cayce to settle down. She talks about being able to sit outside and watch all kinds of people walk by. “This is exciting because it unites generations. The older people come to enjoy company and we have a playground and a ping pong table. More and more people are coming back to the Avenues and we’re excited to have them come back,” she said.
Not only is city council renovating the park, but they have instilled a dilapidated housing ordinance and rental registry. Another park, Riverland Park, has a grand opening for Oct. 29.
Cayce City Manager Rebecca Vance said the Guignard Park project took about a year to finish up due to last year’s flood damage which really set the city back in terms of construction. The park cost $500,000 with $250,000 from Landwater Conservation Funds which is granted through Parks, Recreation and Tourism and the other half from TIF (Tax Increment Financing) funds.
“We were eligible for LWCF funds because we already had received it years ago so they reopened to previous cities,” said Vance.
As for the ping pong table, Vance credits that to Partin who heard about it at a meeting. Partin explained the ping pong table not only encourages recreation but is a revenue stream for businesses.
While city staff, council and businesses played a vital role in renewing Guignard Park, a couple of community clubs provided food and drinks the day of the grand re-opening. The Cayce Women’s Club and Cayce Avenues Club are both social volunteer groups helping promote hospitality in this small city.
Pamme Eades, president of both clubs, said, “The Avenues is a social group, a volunteer association of neighbors designed to meet each other and have easy access to city (needs). We do the Christmas tree sale in November every year. We also help out at neighborhood events like this one.”
The group meets the third Tuesday at State Street Baptist Church. As for the women’s club, they meet at the clubhouse in the Avenues and turn 30 next September as a federated club.
“We focus on the community. In December, we sponsor the Cayce tree lighting and help with memorial lights. We have an Easter party for Lexington County foster kids at Foxtree Farm. AS president, my project is random acts of kindness and next year we are going city wide with 80 days of kindness,” she explained. Look out for random acts of kindness to be publicized on social media.