Questions posed to the columnist

  • Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Last week, I departed from my usual style of opining and simply asked 10 thought-provoking questions. This week, I am answering questions posed by people in the community. Some were posed directly to me as they appear; some were posed indirectly in casual conversations, and some are the result of me reading people's minds.

All names have been removed. People will stop speaking to me if they think every time we discuss a local issue, they're going to see their name in the newspaper.

Question No. 1: “Hey Will, you mentioned in your column naming the proposed new Mount Pleasant high school after local resident Darius Rucker. Why don't you get on board with the name ‘Shem Creek High?'”

Answer: I wouldn't be opposed to the name “Shem Creek High” at all, but it has some downsides. For one, it would always be “the other creek” high school, since Goose Creek High has been in this area for so long and is such a football powerhouse. The other downside is that I'd be afraid that if you put the name Shem Creek on anything else around here, the present Mount Pleasant Town Council will start approving tall buildings right next to it.

Question No. 2: “We've always heard that the chances of getting run over while walking to your car at the beach are greater than your chances of being attacked by a shark. And yet, just last week, a pigmy whale died on the beach at Hilton Head after being attacked by a shark. How safe are we in the water?”

Answer: Rest easy! The last recorded shark fatality in South Carolina was way back in the 1800s. While it is true that modern technology has alerted us to the fact that great white sharks are now birthing off our coast, as opposed to just passing through like tourists as was thought until now, it is still safe to go into the water. Perhaps Hilton Head touted the shark attack story to cut down on crowding caused by tourists. I don't know. But the statistics are still on your side for safe swimming, unless, of course, you resemble a whale.

Question No. 3: “There has been a lot of media coverage lately about growth and change in Mount Pleasant. It seems people fall in two camps: those who want Coleman Boulevard and Shem Creek to look like The Boulevard I development, and those who want it to look more like the Old Village.

Even the Coastal Conservation League spoke in favor of tall buildings to prevent suburban sprawl and environmental damage. Why should the old part of Mount Pleasant have to look like the places elsewhere that people left to come here?”

Answer: Great question! While the Boulevard I was intended to spawn a walkable, livable community on Coleman Boulevard, it in actuality has become a game changer so far as design and height restrictions go for this portion of Mount Pleasant. Just as the National Football League reverses referees' calls by saying, “Upon further review,” that's the effect The Boulevard I has had. The reasons for this are its dominating height, its lack of setback from the street and the fact that as of this week, the first-floor retail space facing Coleman Boulevard has a grand total of one tenant – one.

Rather than being a haven for bicycle commuters, tenants' cars have been parked all over the streets of the surrounding single-family neighborhood. There is currently a nail spa/salon occupying one retail space. All the other space facing the street has “for lease” signs in the windows. This sheds new light on the theory that Coleman Boulevard can be turned into a Buckhead-type, self-contained community where people no longer drive cars to work but ride bikes, and once home, they will just walk downstairs to eat, shop and play.

Meanwhile, tall buildings are going up elsewhere around Mount Pleasant in areas where they are not out of character with the surrounding properties. Examples: the new hotel on Chuck Dawley Boulevard, The Haven at Midtown apartment complex and the new condo building at The Tides at the foot of the Ravenel Bridge.

Yes, Mount Pleasant knows how to grow “up.” Let's just hope that, like Charleston, it maintains a sense of where to grow up.

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.will@gmail.com.

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