14 Mar Mixed Signals from Ladys Island Coalition – Keep on Keeping On
Few would doubt that development on Ladys Island has outpaced infrastructure. Some would argue that more concrete and asphalt, like the +/-$50 million invested on the expansion of Sams Point Road and the second McTeer Bridge, have compounded traffic congestion rather than eased it. Others would argue that a third crossing is required. All would likely agree there is currently no local state or federal finding in the queue. But you cannot even apply for such until you have a plan.
With a lack of faith in government, the Sea Island Corridor Coalition and the SC Coastal Conservation League have drawn a large cadre of volunteers to launch a citizens planning initiative. This is a good thing. I went to the initial meeting and look forward to receiving the recommendations generated by nearly 400 caring residents of Ladys and St Helena and Harbor and Fripp Islands. In fact when their report is ready I will schedule a City Council Work Session where they can present their findings and recommendations and we will listen.
At the same time a number of other issues are brewing.
The first is that while the initial city-county traffic study has offered conceptual recommendations, I believe it would be foolish to address the details until we see how the recommendations jive with the citizens’ plan.
The second is that Walmart will hire 200 people, hopefully some of the many who commute as much as four hours round trip a day to jobs that pay little if any more, will get those jobs so they can be closer to home to be better parents, better citizens and more engaged on their home turf. That in and of it self could impact related early morning and late afternoon congestion.
At the same time, I am hearing from many residents of the islands who express enthusiasm that they will no longer be totally bridge dependent because the new Walmart sells what they need closer to home and without having to cross a bridge. This too has the potential for reducing on and off island traffic for those running errands. And a potential Publix in the Burton area, only being talked about for the second time, would alleviate traffic to Ladys Island.
There is a lot of movement and more to come and I am among the first to recognize the islands need a comprehensive plan or, better yet, an update of past plans that never were implemented..
I was somewhat taken aback when the chair of the Sea Island Corridor Coalition, who has with the help of the Coastal Conservation League, launched a unique and potentially powerful community planning process, recently wrote a letter to the news paper stating that little could be done without government. While I fully agree that County and City and State Governments might well lead to some funding answers and could in a united way — like leaders south of the Broad River– be unified advocates, I think the planning process needs more time with less government intrusion so that the voices of the people can be heard. Speaking for the city I can tell you that our five member council is listening and watching and anxiously awaiting an opportunity to review the work project which might just lead to some answers engineers and politicians might not find.
I urge you to stay with the process. Register and attend the coming mapping sessions. You will be heard from this government official and I believe others. That is not to say we will have immediate answers for available funding but it will put us back on track TOGETHER.
LAST CHANCE TO REGISTER FOR LADY’S ISLAND MAPPING SESSIONS
Mapping sessions as a followup to the Feb 23 community forum – Designing A Future For Lady’s Island – begin this week, with the first session scheduled from 8 to 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 16.
Subsequent sessions are set for Monday, March 20 (10 a.m.-12 p.m.); Tuesday, March 21 (4-6 p.m.); and Thursday, March 23 from 6-8 p.m.
With the exception of the March 23 meeting, all mapping exercises will be held in the Conference Room at Beaufort County Airport (Frogmore International).
The March 23 meeting is scheduled for the Conference Room of the Beaufort County Association of Realtors, 22 Kemmerlin Lane, on Lady’s Island Drive just south of Publix and the Sea Island Presbeyterian Church.
There is space available for 100 at the four sessions; just over 50% of those spaces have been reserved. Others who wish to participate must pre-register; click here to reach the registration page.
Results of these mapping sessions, plus those held on Feb. 23, will be incorporated into a summary report of Designing A Future For Lady’s Island to be distributed throughout Lady’s Island and presented to city and county officials on completion.