During the Mount Pleasant Town Council meeting on Tuesday evening, Jan. 14 Mayor Will Haynie presented the 2020 State of the Town Address.
Haynie led the address by stating the following points of information:
- Town finances are strong, concluding the last fiscal year with an operating surplus and a AAA bond rating.
- Crime rate recently reported as low.
- Town was named the most desirable place to live in S.C. by a national publication.
- The town is investing tens of millions of dollars in Capital Improvement Projects.
- The town is on the verge of a new, viable Attainable Housing workforce development in the town that requires no public money.
Then, Haynie said he had the privilege of addressing the town with the most diverse town council in the town’s history.
“For the first time, four of our eight council members are ladies. For this, we can be very proud,” he said.
He introduced the full council and said, “We will have a respectful and deliberative council focused on making our town proud. We are obviously doing a lot of things right. Now let’s keep it that way.”
Haynie continued his address, “The Lowcountry region is experiencing explosive growth. It is our biggest challenge. Our regional infrastructure − transportation and drainage− lags behind.”
He noted that the days of Mount Pleasant being a bedroom community with a scenic creek and short drive to the beach are over. Now, he said, Mount Pleasant has become a major influence in the Lowcountry as the fourth largest town in the state. He noted the presence of regional leaders in attendance at the meeting showed the importance of the town regionally.
Haynie explained the nearby municipalities share a lifeline of just a few roads leading away from the coast that they must share when hurricanes cause evacuations.
“We are all in this together, because wind, water and unfortunately traffic don’t stop at municipal boundaries,” he said.
He continued by saying the town has taken a regional leadership role implementing measures to slow and manage growth, without plans to stop.
Where the town currently stands
Haynie proceeded by sharing where the town is now in their departments and overall.
Haynie said public safety is the town’s first priority and explained both their Police and Fire Departments are accredited. He also shared that Mount Pleasant was named one of the 15 safest places in the country and second in South Carolina.
He said the town’s Public Services workers have distinguished themselves in storms, floods, big events and by keeping the town clean on a daily basis with positive attitudes.
He mentioned the Recreation Department is nationally accredited and thriving. Recently, the gym at Town Hall was replaced to give residents a new recreational facility.
Haynie shared the Transportation Department is managing road improvements that are “perhaps unparalleled in the town’s history.” He applauded transportation for completing the Coleman Boulevard project, beginning Park West Boulevard improvements, progressing the transportation grid and working closely with Charleston County on Highway 41 improvements.
He commended the town for the recent completion of Shem Creek Phase 3, which opened with a new state-of-the-art pedestrian bridge over the water in the heart of town.
He shared his excitement for the town’s first annual Our Community, Our Children forum co-hosted by the town, Wake-Up Carolina and the town’s Police Department. He described the community wide event as an opportunity to address the opioid crisis, human trafficking and bullying. He announced that the second annual meeting will be held this upcoming March.
Haynie explained a year and a half ago he presented the Palmetto Principle which consists of three leadership principles; protect, plan and restore. He said when the four councilmembers and he began their terms in 2017, the growth was so fast that they had to act quickly to protect the look and feel of the town.
“Together, we have delivered,” he said.
He noted the council’s efforts to protect, plan and restore as purchasing the Wando Shrimp Dock for the vitality of the shrimping fleet and playing a role in protecting Boone Hall through a conservation easement funded by Charleston County and the State Conservation Bank.
“Because of regional and state cooperation, Boone Hall Plantation will never be developed,” Haynie exclaimed.
Other protection measures he mentioned included increased tree buffers, protecting Highway 41 Corridor from proposed designs inconsistent with residents’ best interest. Also, protection of the area’s marine environment and town’s seafood supply with the first comprehensive plastic packaging ordinance passed by a major municipality.
Haynie said the town has continued to plan the design and financing of their first big drainage improvement project in the old part of town “where it’s needed now.” They will address future Flood Resilience through a new standing Flood Resilience Committee of Council.
In a few months, he explained that an Economic Development Strategic Plan will be passed to ensure they “build a 21st century economy in Mount Pleasant.” He said this is to include attainable housing for the town’s workforce such as police officers, firefighters, government employees, teachers, nurses and hospitality workers.
“We will take care of our people, our economy and our natural resources with purpose, with focus and with courage,” he said.
The mayor said the town has restored sanity and sustainability to “an out of control growth rate” by passing the Lowcountry’s first full-scale Growth Management Plan that includes building permit allocation.
He also mentioned the town has restored hope to residents by controlling development and restored emphasis things that bring residents joy; such as the Art on the Halfshell project, the Mayor’s Music and Art Program and the belief the town will have an arts center in the near future.
Later in the address he also mentioned restoring green space and water quality in rivers in the area. He said they would restore water quality by moving to implement the Shem Creek Advisory Committee Report and working with Mount Pleasant Waterworks to remove septic tanks that are polluting waterways.
The mayor said that in the future, the town will protect the suburban, coastal distinctiveness of Mount Pleasant; the unique natural resources in and around town and nourish the community through art, music and their hand-in-hand approach to the opioid crisis, human trafficking and child abuse.
“For as the Bible says, ‘What does it prosper us if we gain the whole world but lose our very soul,’” Haynie said.
Next in the address he listed out the plans for the town as:
- Plan for concurrency between infrastructure capacity and growth.
- Plan for flood resiliency.
- Plan economic growth so citizens can live and work in the town.
- Plan for the fiscal responsibility for Mount Pleasant “as we wean the town from dependence on housing construction that our economy and public revenues have been based on for so long.”
- Alongside a private foundation and with the Patriots Point Foundation, the town will plan and build a landside home for the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center and a home for the Medal of Honor Society (recipients) and their legacy.
- He stated that Mount Pleasant is the home of our nation’s heroes and students will travel to the town to learn about selfless service and patriotism.
- Plan the future of the town by revising and passing the “all-important new Comprehensive Plan.”
Haynie explained that as the town works towards a vision, the work of finite goals is never over.
“The moment of choosing is upon us. What got us here won’t get us there. We must resist finite thinking because Mount Pleasant is at an ideological crossroads,” he said.
He quoted author Simon Sinek on racking up finite wins, taking courage to lead and making decisions to current standards. Haynie said the infinite view isn’t just about building heights and densities, but about if the town will decide what they will be or if they will follow a well-worn path that every other growing city takes.
He said that the vision of a healthy community respects the past while embracing the future. He continued by saying the town must resist the urge to grow for growth’s sake just because that’s what thriving municipalities are ‘supposed to do.’
He compared the leadership and future of the town to a Sweetgrass basket, explaining it is woven together with love and care and keeps its beauty and purpose as long as it stays woven together.
“But when you pull apart that Sweetgrass basket – carelessly — it loses both its beauty and its usefulness. Let’s walk boldly and optimistically into our future woven together in unity respect and purpose,” he said.
To view the mayor’s complete State of the Town Address view the town council video online at bit.ly/TownAddress2020. To watch a short clip of the end of Haynie’s address visit moultrienews.com/videos.