City Council Candidate Russell Stall: GVL at a Crossroads

Reprinted from the Greenville Journal, February 7, 2017

by Cindy Landrum

Greenville City Council candidate Russell Stall is not a proponent of stopping growth. He is a proponent of deliberate and intentional growth.

“Greenville is at a crossroads right now,” said Stall, the retired founder and former executive director for Greenville Forward, a nonprofit established in 2006 to facilitate Vision 2025, a plan developed by hundreds of residents that pictured Greenville as a place with a marquee downtown park along the Reedy River, minor league baseball downtown and an improved bus system. “We must have the courage to plan growth intentionally and deliberately and be smart.”

Stall officially announced he would run as a Democrat for an at-large seat on Greenville City Council currently held by Gaye Sprague. Sprague has held the seat since 2009 and has announced she will not run for re-election.

Running for one of council’s two at-large seats instead of a district that represents only a portion of the city was important to Stall, who is making his first go at elected office. “I have a history of connectedness and a history of listening to the community as a whole,” he said. “That’s really what Greenville Forward was about, collecting the voices of Greenville and responding to them.”

Stall said growth is inevitable and necessary. “We have to grow as a community. If you stop growing, you stop prospering,” he said. “But we’ve got to be smart about it.”

He pointed to the proposed 55 Camperdown project that would have put a modern office building on the banks of the Reedy River near the Main Street bridge. “To me, it didn’t make sense. It destroyed the aura of the Reedy River,” he said. “We just have to think about how the different developments coming into Greenville fit. There are communities across the country that have done a good job with planned growth that we should emulate. We just need to think about it.”

Stall said how the city, along with Greenville County, handles the redevelopment of County Square, which ultimately could be the largest development in the history of downtown, will be “really important in showing which direction the city is going.”

“That is one of the best pieces of real estate in Greenville County and it can’t just be a bunch of apartments and condos,” said Stall, as he stood in Falls Park looking towards County Square as the sound of hammers echoed away from one of the many developments under construction in the background.

In addition to smart, sustainable growth, Stall said affordable housing, connectivity, parks and public spaces, and safe and authentic neighborhoods are keys to Greenville’s continued success.

“As more same-looking apartment complexes are constructed, our city is losing some of the charm derived from creative and varied architectural styles,” he said. Parks and public spaces differentiate Greenville from other communities, he said.

He said Main Street is an amazing example of what planning can do.

“We are at a critical time in our city’s future,” he said.

Prior to founding Greenville Forward, Stall owned ResearchWorks, a strategic marketing research firm focusing on community development and customer satisfaction research. He is past president of the Rotary Club of Greenville, South Carolina’s largest and oldest Rotary Club. He also was the class facilitator for Leadership Greenville for 13 years. He’s also a master gardener and a member of the Woodworkers Guild of Greenville. Stall is a member of the Peace family, one of Greenville’s most prominent families.