2012 a year of growth in city of Easley

By Nicole Daughgetee
Courier Staff

EASLEY — The city of Easley experienced tremendous growth and development during 2012.

Here is a look back — a year in review — of Easley’s major highlights and a look forward to 2013 and the goals on which the city has set its sights.

Easley’s Town Center continues to grow and develop opening doors for employment opportunities and bolstering the local economy, as Pickens County consumers have more retail and eatery options.

“In 2012, the Easley Town Center saw the opening of Kohl’s, Academy Sports, PetSmart and Tractor Supply, among others. Longhorn Steakhouse also opened,” said Easley city administrator Fox Simons. “In 2013 we should see Sam’s Club, Marshall’s and even more.”
While Simons did not feel comfortable offering concrete numbers concerning the Town Center, it was evident during the recent holiday season that the Town Center had consistently full parking lots.
Easley mayor Larry Bagwell said that the city is very pleased with how the project is progressing.

“The Town Center has met all our expectations,” Bagwell said.
In conjunction with the School District of Pickens County, Easley boasted the opening of a brand new, state-of-the-art high school beaming with Green Wave pride. The old Easley High School’s historical buildings were preserved thanks to a group of vocal supporters in the Easley community, and that school is currently undergoing renovations that will transform it into a second middle school in Easley, freeing up the congestion at Gettys Middle School.

Another accomplishment in 2012 was the completion of the Brushy Creek and Pearson Road Interchange.

“As many of you know, this project was long overdue, and the new traffic light and turn lanes are a significant improvement,” Bagwell said. “The city sincerely appreciates your patience during this project. We know it was an inconvenience for you, but the pain was worth the wait.”

Easley hopes to see development begin soon on the Brushy Creek Greenway. The city is currently working with stakeholders on the first phase of the greenway. Once the city is able to complete this phase, the greenway will connect the J.B. “Red” Owens Complex with Pearson Road.

It is estimated that this initial phase will be about a mile and a half in length.

Since the city undertook an initiative to become a more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly community, about three miles of bike lanes have been constructed, and several new sidewalks have been built. The most recently completed projects are the bike lane and road diet on North A Street (SC-135) from North East Main Street to Fleetwood Drive (Baptist Hospital) and the multi-use path along Couch Lane.
Couch Lane has long been one of the city’s busiest roads for joggers, walkers and cyclists.Because of the recreational use and the many surrounding neighborhoods, Couch Lane was one of the most dangerous roads for pedestrians in the city. Making this road safer has long been a priority for the city.

With this in mind, the city constructed an eight-foot wide multi-use path along the side of Couch Lane. With this project complete, walkers, joggers, and cyclists can safely traverse Couch Lane. In addition, with the completion, walkers and joggers can safely reach downtown Easley exclusively using sidewalks (with the exception of the Brushy Creek Bridge).

Bagwell and Simons agree that this is a major accomplishment for Easley, and it is certainly a point of pride for the city.
Continuing to grow and develop the pedestrian and family friendly opportunities throughout the city, Easley continues to work toward acquiring the Doodle Line Railway.

“We are negotiating with the city of Pickens to acquire the Pickens railroad and turn it into a rails-to-trails project,” Simons said. “We hope to continue with park improvements with some additional programs and amenities.”

The completion of Easley’s dog park, located inside of Hagood Park, provided another space for families and friends in the community to enjoy recreational time with their pets.

The TIF Committee and the Easley City Council have approved the final phase for renovations at Old Market Square. This phase will include the demolition and rebuilding of the steps coming from Pendleton Street into Old Market Square. These steps will be more user-friendly and code compliant, Simons said.

The previous phases included the rebuilding of the stage, seating area, the walkways leading from the downtown area, and much-needed beautification.

“This past year the downtown area has utilized Old Market Square with many events for the citizens,” said Simons. “This last phase should be completed by June 2013.”

Driving along U.S. 123, people can see the beginning phases of Easley’s Partners in Pride Program. In an effort to maintain the southern beauty that attracts businesses and families to locate to Easley, the city has partnered with Easley Combined Utilities to enhance Easley’s aesthetics.

“The Partners in Pride Program aligns the city of Easley with civic and private organizations to beautify the entryways and main thoroughfares in and around the city with decorative landscaping,” explained Simons.

2012 marked the first year of the Easley community garden. Lisa Garrett, who oversees the project, in addition to Easley’s Farmer’s Market, is proud of the garden’s success.

Thanks to all the efforts put into the garden, Easley was able to donate an abundance of fresh food to local food banks, needy families, Feed a Hungry Child Program at East End Elementary, SHINE, United Christian Ministries, and Meals on Wheels.

“The garden produced over 450 tomatoes, several hundred pounds of beans, countless cucumbers, peppers, strawberries, squash, zucchini, okra and sweet potatoes. We also grew a variety of herbs, and beautiful zinnias,” said Garrett. “The growing season was successful because of the many volunteers that helped plant, pull weeds, harvest vegetables, and deliver food.”

Garrett’s goal is to having something growing year-round in the garden.

“At the present time, we have mustard greens, turnip greens and kale growing,” said Garrett.

Anyone who would like to learn more about how food is grown or to volunteer their time should call Garrett at 855-7900, ext. 7200 for more information.

“You do not need a special skill to volunteer — just a willingness to help,” said Garrett. “We have no set days or times that we work in the garden; there is always something to do there.”
The Easley Farmers Market completed its fourth year in 2012 and by all accounts, it was a great one.

More than 70 vendors participated over the course of the growing season.

“Some of our farmers were hit with a stream of bad luck like a late frost, heavy rain, no rain, hail, wind, and a bear. Needless to say, farming has its challenges,” said Garrett. “Through it all they persevered and offered the citizens of Easley an abundance of fresh local produce.”

Easley’s Farmer’s Market offered everything from shiitake mushrooms to pomegranates. Some vendors proffered products like local honey, homemade jams, jellies, salsas, chow chows, pickles, hot sauces, wonderful baked breads, desserts, muffins and great coffee from the Starving Artist Cafe’.

New to the market in 2012 was a widening of the venue on the first Saturday of each month so local crafters and artists could participate.
“We had a variety of crafters/artists participate offering beautiful artwork, handmade wreaths, scarves, sewn products, and jewelry,” said Garrett.

Throughout the season, Easley’s Farmer’s Market also offered local musicians like Sweet Potato Pie, Leslie Smith and the SWU Jazz Band; a live cooking demonstration from John Dioguardi, owner of Bella Vita Restaurant; and participation from a variety of non-profit groups like Baptist Easley, the Lions Club, 4H, the Marine Corp. League, Fine Arts Center of Easley and more offering educational information to the public.

The next season will begin on March 23, 2013. The market is located in the parking lot of City Hall from 8 a.m. until noon. For more infmroatnio, visit

Easley is a city that continues to grow, and in so doing has a lot to offer families who currently live there and those businesses and families who are contemplating a move to Pickens County. While there was some negative publicity that put Easley on the map in 2012, everything that the city has accomplished outshined those foibles along the way.

Bagwell ande Simons — along with members of the Easley city council and integral staff members like Garrett — have high hopes and goals for continued growth and development as Easley strides triumphantly into 2013.