Letter from the Executive Director

"Parks and protected public lands are proven to improve water quality, protect groundwater, prevent flooding, improve the quality of the air we breathe, provide vegetative buffers to development, produce habitat for wildlife, and provide a place for children and families to connect with nature and recreate outdoors together."
Why Parks and Recreation are Essential Public Services, National Recreation and Park Association

Dear Friends,

As I reviewed the information in this report and reflected on the previous year’s progress, I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude. Great things happened, big challenges were tackled, and game-changing accomplishments were achieved. The Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission (ICRC) was faced with the risk of losing so much over the past two years. However, in the process of bouncing back, I am pleased to say, that with the help of this entire community, we are stronger than ever.

Great things happened…
Leo’s Landing Inclusive Playground was expanded! This already amazing playground evolved to its full scope by adding new and exciting layers of inclusive play. The two-acre expansion offers creative spaces for social and imaginative play, as well as thrilling and fun features for all to enjoy, regardless of ability. This vision became a reality through the work of Leo’s Pride Foundation and all their wonderful partners. They dreamed, funded, and built this amazing gift for our community and deserve tremendous praise for it. This incredible state-of-the-art play space has become a highlight of Saluda Shoals Park, attracting children and adults both locally and from across many states. THANK YOU, LEO’S PRIDE FOUNDATION!

Big challenges were tackled…
I am so grateful for the ICRC staff. The previous year’s financial challenges left the agency very short-staffed. Our ability to find and hire great, new people could not keep pace with the rate the community returned to the services they loved and enjoyed. The ICRC team stepped up to this challenge by filling in many different roles to ensure customers had great experiences and built wonderful memories. This past year’s total visitation number shows that we were only ½% or 11,654 visits away from breaking our 2018-19 attendance record for park visitors. Keeping our programs running smoothly and maintaining quality service, while short staffed was a big challenge. All the credit for our success goes to ICRC team members who were flexible and willing to fill-in wherever necessary. THANK YOU TEAM!

Game-changing accomplishments were achieved…
In 2021, the Lower Saluda Greenway Feasibility Study was completed. This study outlined what it would take to accomplish the
decades old dream of building a Greenway along the Lower Saluda River, connecting Lake Murray to the city of Columbia. Momentum gained from community support for this project led to the receipt of design and engineering funds from Lexington County, along with a substantial portion of the construction funding from the State of South Carolina. At the conclusion of the fiscal year, this dream transitioned into a real project! The Lower Saluda Greenway is recognized as being a game-changing accomplishment and will help differentiate and define our community in the future. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO KEPT THE GREENWAY DREAM ALIVE AND HELPED MAKE IT A REALITY!

I am grateful to be a part of this community. It is full of wonderful people, beautiful natural resources, and a great Recreation District. Through our parks and services, we help build memories, foster relationships, and support wellness for all. I appreciate the community support we’ve received this past year, and I look
forward to seeing you in the parks.

Best regards,

Mark A. Smyers
Executive Director, Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission

ICRC 2021-22 Annual Report