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Greenville leaders want to revamp riverfront, attract tourists

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -

New restaurants, condos and boating access points.   

Greenville city leaders say you could see it all along the Tar River in upcoming years.

"We have this resource right here and it is so beautiful, and yet, there's not easy access to it," says Gary Fenton, director of Greenville's Recreation and Parks Dept.  

His department's plan to revamp the riverfront will kick off with an intensive study of a 7-mile stretch of the river. It will run from the 264 Bypass to the future East Side Park.

They plan to hire a consulting firm this month to analyze existing river conditions and pinpoint ways to improve it.

"I envision seeing kayaks on the river, a couple of boat launches, piers where people can fish, some type of housing, developments, restaurants, the possibilities are endless," says Lamarco Morrison, a parks planner for Greenville's Recreation and Parks Dept.

But the possibilities don't come cheap. The study alone will cost taxpayers $200,000, which was already allotted in next year's budget. Then there will be additional costs to make it happen.

"We don't look at it as an expenditure, but more as an investment," Morrison says.

It's an investment Dennis Mitchell, Greenville city councilman at large and initiator of the study, says is key to making Greenville the economic hub of the East.

"This is going to be something transformational," Mitchell says. "This is not something small. We really want to look at it and do it right. It's going to have to be something we have to invest in."

Mitchell says he wants to model the river plan after those in cities like Richmond, Virginia and San Antonio, Texas.

Recreation and Parks officials are accepting proposals from consulting firms through the end of this month and will present a plan to City Council on Oct. 7th.

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