By Stan Welch
Another focus meeting concerning the Piedmont Dam and footbridge was held on July 25th. A variety of interested parties attended, including Greenville Councilman Lynn Ballard, ENEL representative Beth Harris, Ty Houck and Matt Schell of the Greenville and Anderson county recreation departments, respectively, Richard Greer of State Investors, and Larry Webb of KDS Properties. Also on hand representing the Piedmont Special District were PFD Chief Tracy Wallace and Craig Lawless.
The key items of discussion continue to center around ownership of the footbridge on top of the dam, as well as the placement of the proposed kayak launch. Harris reported that ENEL is running a survey to analyze the dam’s stability and to determine whether it is a public safety hazard. Enel, which operates hydroelectric operations at both the Piedmont and Pelzer dams currently sells power to Duke Energy, but is considering selling power to Greer and Pelzer Hydro, LLC once their contract with Duke expires.
Harris asked whether the public service district (PSD), which is essentially the town of Piedmont, owns the footbridge. Craig Lawless said that they did not, to the best of his knowledge. Matt Schell stated that, until ownership of the bridge is verified, the $70,000 survey that Anderson County agreed to fund was on hold. He added that county attorney Leon Harmon will conduct a title search.
Anne Peden, driving force behind the efforts to protect the footbridge for its historic value, stated that she has the documents showing the transfer of the dam, power plant and acreage from JP Stevens to Aquaenergy, but added that the documents do not mention the footbridge.
In the matter of the kayak launch, Chief Wallace agreed to approach the appropriate property owners about permission for the docks used for kayak launches. He also agreed that the PSD would pay the $900 for the preliminary drawings of the launch facilities.
Schell continued to push for the establishment of a portage around the dam for the kayakers using the Saluda Blueway, while Houck argued that once that first step is taken, kayakers will demand further development and progress.
The various parties agreed to pursue different aspects such as property owner approval, easements, and most importantly, determining ownership of the footbridge. The next meeting of the group will take place on Wednesday, August 22 at 1 p.m.
By Stan Welch