By David Meade
Only a handful of residents attended the Pelzer Town Council meeting on Monday. There was a light agenda with only two items, one of which was related to the recent annexation which was approved by voters on June 9. A resident of the newly incorporated town limits was on the agenda to address Mayor and Council about developing a planning committee for future direction of the new incorporated town. However the resident was not able to make the meeting.
Instead, Pelzer Mayor Steve McGregor addressed the annexation situation stating that the process of starting up a new town is new to everyone and that it should have happened “a long time ago.”
“We had to start somewhere,” he said.
To finalize the process, second reading on the annexation by Pelzer Town Council will be held in a special called meeting at Pelzer Town Hall on Monday, July 20 at 6:30 p.m.
Under the 25 percent Annexation by Petition method used, the town was required to provide public notice and allow 30 days for public reaction.
There was some discussion about several properties that are in the area of annexation but are not automatically brought in including the Timmerman Access boat ramp, which is owned by Anderson County and a Palmetto High practice field.
McGregor said that during the entire process he and the town have been open about the process. “We put it out there. We are so small we have to be transparent,” he said. “the people have spoken. There are alot that couldn’t see the future.”
The mayor said he had “taken some lumps for getting it done.”
When asked if he had met with Williamston officials to discuss options related to a ribbon annexation being pursued by Williamston, McGregor said he and Williamston Mayor Mack Durham have attempted to have a meeting, but had not been able to.
McGregor said that he didn’t see anything else the Town of Pelzer could do about the annexation other than to proceed with second reading as it is on Monday.
Pelzer Heritage Commission member Gilbert Garrett spoke on the recent EPA grant the non-profit group has been awarded. Garrett said the funds will be used to cap the two former dumpsites and build a retaining wall. The site will be a park setting with a river view he said. The funds will be available October first. Bids for the project are being advertised he said.
Garrett also said the Pelzer Heritage Commission will be applying for another grant in September.
Councilmember Cheryl Beaudreau asked about funding which she was told was set aside for improvements to the old hospital building.
Beaudreau, reading from a 2011 edition of The Journal, quoted the article as stating $89,000 had been designated for the project.
Pelzer Administrator SkipWatkins said that in 2007, the town had a reserve of $600,000 which had been depleted over a period of four to six years, primarily on recreation and improvements to the gym.
Watkins said that by the time McGregor became mayor, the funds were down to about $100,000.
He said former mayor Ken Davis was strong on recreation and making improvements to the gym and a lot of money had been spent there. He also said that the town is audited on a yearly basis by Elliott Davis accounting firm.