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September 10, 2019
Authentic: Rick Osborn
An Aiken resident since the day he was born in the old Aiken County Hospital on Richland Avenue, Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon knew early on that he wanted to make a difference in his hometown community.
“I’ve always had a passion for politics and a desire to serve the community that I love living in, that’s what led me to run for County Council many years ago, where I served two terms,” said Mayor Osbon. “I grew up in awe of Mayor Odell Weeks and later Fred Cavanaugh. It’s been such an honor to have the people of Aiken allow me to carry on their important work as Mayor.”
As mayor, he’s always looking for ways that he can improve our town and make it a more enjoyable place for everyone in our community to get out and enjoy. One major way that he is doing this is by diving back into history and pulling from it the concept of ‘parkways.’
“The City of Aiken is blessed by design,” said Mayor Osbon. “When laid out as a railroad town in the 1830s, engineers built Aiken on a grid that incorporates 174 broad medians, called ‘parkways’ locally. Once active areas where neighbors gathered and children played—and some even grazed a cow or two—the advent of the auto-dependent culture through the last half of the 20th certainly changed that.”
The parkways, while still green and pretty today, were heavily and thickly planted with vegetation over the years. They became passive areas of town that were great to look at, but not as easily accessible or enjoyed as they once were.
“I am proud that I called for the parkways to be returned to more active use three years ago, and led efforts on a pilot project that cleared much of the dense vegetation from the downtown area’s central parkways,” said Mayor Osbon. “The results have been dramatic as people have again begun to gather in grassy areas under the shade of the grand trees that line the City’s streets. As a proof of concept in Teague Park, a block-long stretch of parkway has been improved with a walkway, lighting, and public art.” It’s an idea that Mayor Osbon hopes to implement in more parkways around our downtown. He plans to continue this idea by creating an extensive network of well-lit and landscaped multi-use paths that will be more than just a place to walk, run, or have an afternoon picnic. He wants to include interactive features from water features to public art and installations that highlight important events and historical figures from Aiken’s past.
“Aiken is such a great city,” said Mayor Osbon. “In fact, it’s the best small town in the South—just ask Southern Living! But, as great as our community is, we always need to nurture and protect what sets us apart while we work to meet new needs and grow in a positive way. It just boils down to making Aiken the best place it can possibly be and finding new ways to make it more vibrant and attractive at every step.”