AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — Aiken City leaders are coming up with a game plan to promote growth in the area called Big Bold Ideas.

“I love this place. It is such a charming downtown area. All these little shops,” Heather Salazar told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk about Aiken. “I love the people. The downtown is actually alive,” Andy Kocis added. “The small-town lifestyle is really great for me — living down in Miami, all my life,” James Lander shared.

That’s how many people, including city leaders, describe the spirit of Aiken. Leaders want to build on that spirit with what they are calling Big Bold Ideas.

“I think it illustrates that there are a lot of different views of what the essence of Aiken is, but they all sort of going back to the theme of its uniqueness and its livability,” city manager Stuart Bedenbaugh said.

The idea came following a retreat where city leaders worked to figure out what should be done within the next few years to help move Aiken forward. The plan will allow the city to make use of its investments, improve infrastructure, and allow people to “get everywhere from anywhere” with a greenway project. “That’s certainly is an amenity that we hear about often from our residents and our visitors. And that’s something for sure we’re gonna be looking at also long term,” Bedenbaugh added.

Big Bold Ideas

At a recent work session, city leaders learned a homeless shelter, a performing arts center with up to 15.-hundred seats, a new park, and a 2-week horse celebration could be implemented as soon as possible. “I came down for the horses. When I came and Hitchcock woods was the big draw for me. I was tired of knocking the ice out or the water buckets because I came from Michigan. I wouldn’t go back,” Donna Boik said.

“Some of the other items that were discussed again were gonna be evaluated reviewed. And you know, council’s gonna ultimately sort of, vote, have a vote to memorialize these,” Bedenbaugh said.

It’s a lot of work with not a lot of time. Council is expected to adopt the plan by the end of March. City leaders will be assigning teams to get items underway soon after that.