Letter from the Executive Director
"Local park and recreation agencies provide spaces, programs and services that are essential to a community’s vitality. They also serve as key factors in advancing health equity, improving individual and community-level health outcomes, and enhancing quality of life.” The Economic Impact of Local Parks, National Recreation and Park Association.
Once again, I am reminded of how wonderful this community and agency are by the substantial amount of joy, growth and connection reflected in this report. In my mind’s eye, I can see the 1,615 soccer players competing and challenging themselves to learn new skills. I can see the 189,663 Saluda Shoals Park event participants enjoying activities with family and friends and building memories together. I can hear the 7,736 summer camp participants across the district laughing with delight as they play together. Our goal is to create community through people, parks, and programs and I believe, through the efforts of our wonderful staff and volunteers, we took another great step forward. There’s always more work to be done, but I know that this year’s progress made a positive difference and impact on the community we serve.
Great progress in creativity …
I am thrilled with the progress we’re making around creativity, aesthetics, and art. For the past year, public art has been a focus of the Saluda Shoals Foundation. Through the generous financial support of the CW and Dorothy G. Love Foundation, the Saluda Shoals Foundation Annual Campaign, and the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission, we were able to install a wonderful new sculpture at the River Center in Saluda Shoals Park. “Egrets,” created by internationally known artist Babett Bloch, will serve as a backdrop for the many weddings, reunions, and events held at the River Center meeting facility, adding beauty and value to our guests’ experience. This project is only the beginning and will serve as a catalyst for future public art in the park.
Lower Saluda Greenway …
I am excited to share that the 40+ year dream of the Lower Saluda Greenway Project has finally transitioned into a reality. Throughout 2022, with help from a variety of supporting agencies, Lexington County, State of South Carolina, Economic Development Administration, and Central Midlands Council of Governments, the necessary funding was secured to make this dream come true. ICRC, in partnership with these many agencies, is moving forward with the design process. As we begin to work through the details, the relationships formed and tremendous support of many people and agencies speaks to scope and importance of this project. The Lower Saluda Greenway will be transformational for the Midlands region, and I am pleased that ICRC will play a role in unlocking this hidden treasure and sharing the beauty and recreational opportunities our rivers offer.
I find myself, once again, grateful to be a part of this community. It is full of wonderful people, incredible natural resources, and a great Recreation District. Through our services, we help build memories, foster relationships, and support wellness for all. I appreciate all the support we’ve received this past year, and look forward to seeing everyone in the parks!
Mark A. Smyers
Executive Director, Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission