By Stan Welch
Members of the Pelzer/West Pelzer steering committee for the Main Street Program met Monday to begin work on a master plan for the revitalization of the community’s business district.
Mayors Steve McGregor and Blake Sanders, along with Council members Roger Scott and Jim Riddle (from Pelzer and West Pelzer respectively) and at large members Gilbert Garrett and West Pelzer planning commissioner member David Odom were joined by Anderson County planning director Michael Forman.
Forman is also acting as the county’s liaison with West Pelzer as they develop their land use plan, which is going on concurrently. As the Main Street plan proceeds into the public meetings stage, Mayor Sanders wants the meetings to be formatted so that any issues concerning West Pelzer that do not come up under that heading can be addressed under the comprehensive plan.
“Public involvement in both of these efforts is really important, but attending too many meetings tends to diminish interest sometime. So if West Pelzer residents are at a meeting and have something to say that may not come strictly under one umbrella or the other, I’d like for them to have the leeway to speak anyway.” Sanders said he welcomes the structure of the two efforts as they progress. “I have been working, with the council, on several things, such as relocating our town hall; and we have been kind of having to figure it out as we go along. To have formal plans in place will be a tremendous help to us. It will give us all a firm footing to work from.”
One area where such an established structure will be of the greatest benefit is in the area of obtaining funding for various projects. In order to apply for and obtain grant funds, for example, the formation of the Main Street committee was a necessary first step in the process.”Knowing what we want to achieve, and having a firm plan, will allow us to set funding goals out to 2018 and 2019,” said Sanders.
The Main Street plan will attempt to walk the tightrope that involves merging the two towns’ interests while maintaining some of the characteristics that set them apart. “The focus of the committee is best summed up as ‘two towns, one community’. We are all agreed that cooperation and combined efforts are essential for us to continue the political and financial progress that we have seen in recent months.”
West Pelzer, for example, will work towards improving the gateways to the town at the intersection of Highways 8 and 20, as well as the gateway at Palmetto Road at the other end of town. Pelzer, for its part, shares that gateway at Highways and Twenty, while it also has gateways where those highways cross the Saluda River. Determining how to best rejuvenate and revitalize those areas is a major purpose of the plan.
The first public meeting concerning the plan will be held at the Pelzer Community Building at 6 p.m. on March 7. The final meeting will be held at a date sometime in late March or early April. That date has yet to be determined, but it will be announced in advance.