Hollywood Park gets renovations from within the community

Children playing on playgroundHollywood Park is dying. The playground needs to be replaced and the trees are dead. But, help is coming and from much closer than expected. Todd Martin has worked on parks before, but this time it’s just around the corner.

By Andrew Martin
Nov. 11, 2015

Though just under an acre, Hollywood Park plays a large part in the life of the area just south of Five Points.

Nestled between South Gregg Street and South Saluda Avenue, the park is regularly filled with families and their children, couples walking their dogs and people reading in the shade. The park is also used frequently by nearby A.C. Moore Elementary School.

“It’s very heavily used by children with small families,” said Chuck Lesser, who runs the walking tours for the Hollywood-Rose Hill neighborhood. “People come from other neighborhoods, they like it so much.”

Emily Gurley and Aava
Emily Gurley plays with her 1-year-old daughter, Aava, in Hollywood Park. Gurley and her daughter visit the park at least three times a week.

But heavy use and decades of play have taken their toll. The red-tipped trees have a fungus, the hackberries are dead and the playground needs replacement.

The community has come together to preserve and repair the park to the best of its ability. But Hollywood Park needed a savior, someone who had experience renovating parks.

Help was just around the corner.

Walter Martin, Columbia’s park planner and manager, has worked on larger projects before, including Owens Field Park and Finlay Park. But Hollywood Park is home.

Walter Martin
Todd Martin is designing the master plan for Hollywood Park’s renovations. He’s lived in the Hollywood-Rose Hill neighborhood for over a year and has worked closely with the community on the renovation design.

“I’ll take my daughter there sometimes after dinner and there will be a few kids there for her to play with,” Martin said. “It’s a great place to take your 4-year-old daughter.”

Martin – everyone just calls him Todd – has lived on Crestwood Drive for over a year and has been working closely with the community on plans laying out five to 10 years of renovations at Hollywood Park.

Martin would like to see a new playground, a library reading box and a splash pad play area for children. But he also has to navigate the delicate balance between extensive renovations and the park’s simplicity.

“A lot of what’s there is really working well,” said Martin. “I just want to make sure as we add to the park in the future that we’ve done correctly and it’s what the community wants.”

To do everything would cost $200,000, half of that for the the new playground. However, money remains an obstacle. Other larger park projects are already being worked on. Owens Field Park and Finley Park remain a higher priority.

So Martin and the community have been seeking help to pay for the renovations. Columbia Green, which supports horticultural projects in the Midlands, gave $3,000.

Fungus on trees
The park’s red-tipped trees and hackberry trees suffer from a fungal infection and are dying or dead. The dead trees are being cut down and replaced.

The grant paid for landscaping and painting, but Hollywood-Rose Hill residents did the work during a community work day. The community often comes together to keep its park clean and repaired.

“The community takes a lot of pride in the park. You can tell when you’re there that they care about this park,” Martin said.

Despite the park’s problems, some parts are thriving. Neighborhood resident Matt Warren recently added a children’s garden. Two dead hackberry trees were removed. New trash cans were added.

These improvements may be small, but every detail makes the park feel more like home.


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