Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Over the last couple of months, much has been written about the area around Mount Pleasant's Shem Creek, including the preservation of the shrimping and fishing fleet.
Most of the conversation has been generated by the parking garage proposed for an area adjacent to the creek with most of the focus on the proposal's height, location and the ultimate need for the structure.
When most people think about Shem Creek, they think about the beauty of the creek with her shrimping and fishing fleet, the diving birds searching for their daily meals, and the graceful porpoises moving in and out of the waterway into the harbor. They think about great seafood and they think about amazing sunsets that rival those in any other part of the country.
Shem Creek has graced the cover of Southern Living and many other well-known magazines; all of them showcasing some of the things that I have mentioned.
Like other areas along the coast, Shem Creek has experienced and will continue to experience development pressures that could forever destroy what makes this area special.
Without quick, decisive action, the opportunity to preserve this area and create something special will close. I would suggest that the town has a unique opportunity to do something very special in this unique area.
Mount Pleasant has what I believe are some of the most talented planning professionals in the country. Elected officials have reached out time and time again to large numbers of interested citizens to craft plans and design standards for the Coleman Boulevard area, including Shem Creek.
Without taking anything away from all past efforts, I would propose that the town conduct a design charrette with local architects to formulate a plan for the area along Coleman Boulevard from Simmons Street to Lansing Drive that would be a Special Design District with a maritime theme – a theme that would enhance the Shem Creek area to maintain and showcase maybe the most precious part of what makes Mount Pleasant special.
This area deserves special treatment apart from every area of town because it is different. I would further suggest that the town could evaluate how accommodations taxes will be spent over the coming years, particularly with so many new hotels being constructed, so that monies could be set aside to do the things that are needed to allow for parking, to provide for specific needs of the shrimping and fishing fleet, and to really be able to tell the history of this area that clearly defines the town for most people.
Perhaps that during this period, the town could set aside any development proposals until new standards could be written for the new design district.
I don't pretend to have all of the answers. Like many others, I just believe that our talented professionals and elected body can do this and that our town would be forever blessed with the maintenance of an area that most towns can only dream about.
Rare is the occasion when my name appears on these pages absent some sort of swirling controversy. But such was the case last week, when Mrs. Lorice McMahon wrote thanking me for building Mount Pleasant's first roundabout at the intersection of Mathis Ferry Road and Shelmore Boulevard.
Truth be known, the I'On Company was but one of a number of players who made that roundabout possible. These included Joel Ford, the town's legendary planning director at the time, and the Coastal Conservation League who helped advance the proposal.
Serendipitously, Buck Limehouse, then chair of SCDOT, had just returned from travels in Britain. Roundabouts are more common there, and his enthusiastic support for the idea was critical. And finally, a majority of town council members: Mayor Cheryll Woods-Flowers, Jewell Browder, Robert Dodds, Paul Gawrych, Mugsy Kerr and Tom Tanis, backed by stalwart supporters of the I'On concept, faced down vocal opposition to enable the roundabout and neighborhood to be built.
As Mrs. McMahon pointed out, in the 16 years since the roundabout was built in front of I'On, numerous others have been constructed throughout town. This is in no small part due to the leadership of town Transportation Engineer Brad Morrison, Director of Planning Christiane Farrell and numerous members of several town councils.
The success of these innovative traffic control devices has inspired numerous other South Carolina muncipalities to build their own roundabouts. As in Mount Pleasant, the result is enhanced traffic flow and safety.
So as a bit player, I say to Mrs. McMahon on behalf of the I'On Company and all those mentioned above, “You're welcome.” My sincere thanks to you for the overly kind and generous recognition.
Mr. Graham, I would like to remind you that after I'On was built with its famous roundabout, that most of town council was voted out of office for supporting your project. Maybe now that the past few town councils have turned Mount Pleasant into “Mount Plastic” and Highway 17 in Rivers Avenue with a median, the voters will try and remember why they moved here to begin with. The overbuilding has made it great to be in the real estate business or a developer, but the charm and character of our fair town is losing out to greed.
Finally, a well-written, detailed explanation of the facts concerning the Shem Creek parking garage situation. I have read various articles in other papers mentioning the matter, but they always left me wondering about the full story. After reading Sully Witte's excellent piece on the Shem Creek garage in the Moultrie News, April 4 edition, I felt I had all of the major facts on the subject I had been looking for previously.
Hats off to Ms. Witte and the Moultrie News for doing such a great job of keeping the citizens of Mount Pleasant fully informed. Keep up the good work.
Wow. Moultrie News is 50. Congratulations. Sully Witte in her tenure has certainly raised it to new heights. I am proud of her.
Your political cartoon from the Moultrie News, Wednesday 4, June, really jumped out at me. The Republican Party in no way seeks to trade the lives of patriotic Americans lost in the line of duty for crass political contributions.
Quite the opposite, Republicans seek the return of mature, responsible government and the end of today's turmoil and suffering caused by an administration that is more out of line every day. A good portion of the tax-paying, law-abiding East Cooper public aligns itself with American historical ideals and many vote Republican accordingly.
Your selection of political commentary distorts the truth and contributes nothing to constructive politics.