By David Meade
During their monthly meeting Friday, Pelzer Town Council heard an update on the REWA sewer project, a proposed park project and the Main St. SC Program. They also approved first reading on a new hospitality tax.
Administrator Skip Watkins, now working part time, said Pelzer and West Pelzer were now connected to the Renewable Water Resources (REWA) Piedmont Regional facility and began pumping wastewater on Friday Feb. 22. The town will be paying their first bill since coming on the system which is estimated to be approximately $15,000 per month.
The West Pelzer sewer treatment plant is out of operation and will be closed out and lagoons drained by mid May, Watkins said
He said the two towns are working on a plan to manage the shared portion of the force main system which will include maintenance labor, electrical costs, repair parts, reserve fund and chemicals.
Watkins also updated council on the Phase 2 Collection system Project which includes replacing more than 26,000 feet of collection system line. Cost is $3,944,000 with $1,065,000 being a USDA-Rural Development loan and the rest a grant.
Watkins said they have acquired 57 rights-of-way and have three left to secure.
The Town held first reading on a new two percent hospitality tax. Town Clerk Heather Holcombe said the tax would be on prepared food and beverages at Mama Mia restaurant and BiLo.
Council went into executive session to hear legal advice from attorney Jimmy King. Second reading will be held at the April 12 meeting.
Upon returning to open session, council discussed recreation issues and what to do with the swimming pool.
Holcombe said that the communities are tied together and that the Pelzer and Williamston recreation programs have a lot of children from surrounding communities that participate in them. She suggested that the towns should look at a combined youth association with one director. Holcombe also recommended the pool be kept open one more year and see if something intervenes.
After some discussion about the cost and requirements for lifeguards, Pelzer Mayor Steve McGregor recommended the town keep the pool open one more year. Council unanimously agreed.
Williamston Mayor Mack Durham presented information on the Main Street SC Program.
Members of the Palmetto Economic Development Committee, which includes representatives of Pelzer, West Pelzer and Williamston, are considering the program as a way to coordinate and revitalize all three towns.
Durham said that the three communities “have challenges that if met together are not quite so big. There are great assets in each community we can capitalize on,” he said.
Durham explained how the Main Street program includes a four point approach that focuses on Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic restructuring.
He said it “provides a cohesive comprehensive plan, but it is not for free.”
Costs for the program are $10,000 for the first year, $7,500 for year two and three and $5,000 a year after that, he said. The program requires a three year committment with a full time director.
Durham suggested spliting the fee among the three towns and said he has proposed to the Williamston council members to fund a full time director the program would require.
Holcombe said she had sat in on the presentation when it was made during a PAED committee meeting last week. “This is the best thing the Town of Pelzer can do,” she said. No official action was taken on the presentation.
During the discussion, Larry Coker, a member of the Pelzer Heritage Commisssion said, “This town has a lot of potential. A lot of people will help us.” Coker described a vision he has for the lower mill property as a river front park.
Coker said the Pelzer Heritage Commission is planning a Pelzer Pride Day in conjunction with Keep America Beautiful. He also said that there is grant funding for dogwoods for the Pelzer Monkey Park.
Coker said the group is planning a gospel singing with five groups at the Pelzer Auditorium on April 13.
Heritage Commission member Dianne Lollis presented information and plans for a proposed veterans memorial park along Hwy. 20 in front of the Monkey Park.
Lollis said the group will raise the money for the project which will include a memorial, rock wall, pavers, an amphitheater and picnic tables or sheds if the town will allow them to use the property.
At the request of councilman Tony Riddle, the project was tabled to the next meeting.
During public comments, a representative of a property investment company said that they have had several break-ins and damage at a property that is being renovated on Hale St.
Pelzer resident and businessman Roger Scott expressed concerns about the town and break-ins.
He presented information on the amount of traffic that comes through the town and said, “Pelzer could have a lot without trying to struggle.” He said at one time the mill provided almost everything. “That’s gone,” Scott said. “Now it’s up to us.”
Scott said that he has lost more than $36,000 in break-ins at properties he owns. “They are killing me,” he said. “We need help.”
Scott said the town needs more people involved and said that they should incorporate the town.
There was some brief discussion about annexation.