08 Aug Where are we running?
So where am I running and asking you to go with me?
Last week I asked you to “run with me” for re-election. It is only fair that I tell you where we’re running and to hear your thoughts about the course to make sure we are aligned.
My primary goal is to complete unfinished business and move along in-progress projects before I step down. And that will take another four years.
I hope you can help us complete what we’ve started. The following a skeleton outline:
* Boundary Street Redevelopment – Critical it is finished as promised, on time and on budget
* Allison Road storm water and sidewalk improvements – finally launch this important project even though after wrangling with SC DOT after six applications the price tag has risen and we will have to find additional dollars outside of our operations budget.
* Southside Boulevard storm water repairs and sidewalk repairs – The project is in progress and should be completed within six months.
* Southside Park Development – While the dog parks are completed, and the tree farm is in the ground with more to come, we are awaiting pending notice of a grant to pay for the planned extensive walking path and relying on the pledge of non-profits to install play ground equipment.
* Marina, Mooring field, dingy dock and day dock improvements – Most of the moorings are in place, dollars are in the bank to repair the transient dock and a day dock.
* Completing the Beaufort Code – After a false start, the code is moving forward. That said, we will spend months meeting with stakeholders, including neighborhoods, developers and planners who use the code and others. There is no need in rushing to pass a code that does not have the confidence in the code so it will likely be next year before it is sent back to the Metro Planning Commission and then with their recommendations to City Council. The intent is to create something better than we have and not to rail road something through that is no better than what we have.
* Storm Water System Repairs and Maintenance – There will always be storm water maintenance and repair issues in the queue. We are making headway with Hancock Street, North and West and a number of others in Mossy Oaks. Given the state does not support these systems which they own, the onus is on us and we will come to the table as funds, outside of operating funds, can be raised through grants or otherwise be made available.
* Activate the Cultural District Commission and enhance collaboration among our many organizations that bring cultural vibrancy to our little city. When I became Mayor there was only one museum in Northern Beaufort County and that is the exceptional museum on Parris Island. Thanks to the hard work from many, with modest support from government, the Beaufort History Museum is resurrected, the Santa Helena History Center is fabulous and we are getting closer to a Reconstruction Era Interpretative Center. The Pat Conroy Literary Center is raising dollars and hopes to open in downtown Beaufort in October. Each of these institutions bring rich vitality to the community and will need continuing community support.
* Focus on Job Diversity through Economic Development – When asked I tell people the largest and most important challenge in Beaufort is to work with the private sector to grow local businesses and collaborate with educational institutions at all levels to prepare students for the jobs ahead. The private sector, in concert with the city will in November Launch the Beaufort Digital Corridor that is connected to Charleston’s very successful Digital Corridor. It will be a place where small technology companies can rent affordable space, collaborate with colleagues under the same roof and grow their business. The BDC will also have monthly meetings for entrepreneurs and expose citizens to the science of Coding. We have finally been able to get the Beaufort Commerce Park certified which makes it eligible for referrals from the Department of Commerce and there are several prospects looking at existing vacant buildings.
* Continue and expand Youth Leadership opportunities- For the past two years I have run a leadership program for four students from each of our middle schools. We start this year’s program soon and hope to expand to a service related leadership program for high school students. This is an all-volunteer effort and I need a few adults to help organize the program if we are going to sustain it.
* Infill and Redevelopment in the greater downtown- This is nothing new on the to do list. But with 40% of our downtown land vacant and with many houses currently in disrepair, we have the ideal situation for meeting the current demand for the demographics of both working people and retirees who want to live in the central city. Rather than be overwhelmed by the huge challenge, the Redevelopment has targeted on street where there are in excess of 100 opportunities between Ribaut Road and Charles Street. In addition to the new Duke Street redo, the REC will recommend even more incentives for people who want to create this “model” street in downtown Beaufort. We will also work with the Arts Council on its small house/studio project which is geared to make redevelopment less expensive and more attractive to existing residents and artists seeking a home / studio in Beaufort.
* Environment sustainability: Offshore Drilling and Sea Level Rise – I intend to stay focused on preventing exploration and drilling of our pristine coast. The all volunteer Beaufort Port Royal Task Force will soon bring to the city its final report so that we can begin to target public and foundation dollars to design the systems needed to protect our city over the coming years and long into the future.
• Promoting through “Pride of Place” – Responding to citizens who live and outside of the city that have asked how they could help the city with beautification, the staff launched this program to accept charitable contributions for improvements. Donations can be earmarked to specific targets like benches in parks, maintenance of flowerbeds and anything else that is suggested. The program has been slow to get going, but I intend to intensify marketing a program that could be good for Beaufort.
Indeed, the plate is full which is why I do not want to leave office until projects are completed or at least the seeds are planted and the roots are firmly in the ground.
Neither City Council nor I can do all of this alone. We must have citizen engagement but the results can be very fruitful for all who call Beaufort home and those who visit us.
To stay at the table with my 24/7 commitment to the hometown we all love I will also need your help to get re-elected on November 8th.
I hope you can come to the table and run with me to addresses these issues and other unfinished business. Click here to help re-election by volunteering and /or contributing so we can continue our work.
If you like more detail, please read more here (trust me, it’s a long read):