Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Here are five of my wishes for the East Cooper region to help keep it the best place to live in South Carolina:
1) Increase the number of public schools to reflect the East Cooper of 21st century. We need another high school and more elementary schools. Why not another high school which brings back the historic name Moultrie High? Wando High School, enrollment 3,700, is wonderful and is not deficient. I moved to Mount Pleasant in 1966 when it had about 5,000 people and one high school. Today the area has 65,000 people and still only one high school. With the popularity of this area, prudence should dictate that plans must be made now in order to have another high school up and running in a reasonable amount of time. Just as urgent is the need for more elementary schools in north Mount Pleasant. My personal dream would be to see Mount Pleasant become its own city school district, but that's a topic for another column or four.
2) Establish some semblance of traffic flow on Coleman and Johnnie Dodds boulevards. The answers we are getting from those in charge are not sufficient. It's ridiculous that on both of these multi-lane major traffic arteries, you get a green light, just get up to speed, then get caught by a red light at the very next intersection. This isn't just a personal annoyance. It is an issue of quality of life for citizen-taxpayers as well as a matter of access and consideration for local business.
3) Speaking of local businesses, item #3 is for local governments to consistently listen to the needs of locally owned small businesses. Last week's column addressed the matter of the Town of Mount Pleasant seeking ways to assist commercial shrimpers while at the same time coming down hard on sidewalk “Sandwich” board signs used by local businesses. That's just one example of what seems to be too heavy handed regulation. Great communities are built on great local economies. Local governments need to keep an eye on the big picture.
4) Preserve the unique, Southern, Lowcountry ambiance of all of East Cooper. I'm not trying to go all Mayberry on this one, but people love this area for a reason. One of those is that it doesn't look and feel like suburban Charlotte on its inland side or like south Florida on its waterfront side. Change and growth are inevitable, but we must preserve the unique Lowcountry feel and ambiance here. That includes Mount Pleasant keeping a mindful Coleman Boulevard design strategy and the islands, especially Sullivan's, remembering that there is a unique, historic South Carolina coastal architecture. It's not McMansions with huge rotundas.
5) Finally, we must find ways for better public access to and activity on the water. It's a matter of active lifestyle vs sightseeing. Mount Pleasant's Waterfront Park is fabulous, except one thing is missing - actual access to the water. Look at all the stand up paddling on Shem Creek and elsewhere. Why can't our parks that are located on bodies of salt water provide reasonable recreational access?
Will Haynie has published more than 400 oped columns as a feature columnist for the Asheville Citizen-Times and the Hendersonville (N.C.) Times-News when it was owned by the New York Times. His niche is as a humorous conservative. Find him on Twitter at @willhaynie or email him at Haynie.email@example.com.