By Stan Welch
Mayor Mack Durham will meet with town officials and representatives of the South Carolina Department of Transportation at the end of the month. The meeting is a pre-construction conference concerning the sidewalk project for Minor Street.
Durham is hopeful that DOT’s portion of the project can be completed in time to allow the town to apply for grant funds for the proposed sidewalk project for Greenville Drive.
Durham is also expecting an update on the planned interchange construction at the juncture of Highway 29 North and Cherokee Road.
“I am hoping for an update on where that project is right now, and when the start date will be,” Durham said.
He was mildly disappointed to hear that, according to a report given to the Anderson County Council two weeks ago by ACOG director Steve Pellisier, DOT officials are still acquiring the necessary rights of way and construction is slated for 2019.
“I’m not too surprised to hear that, since these kinds of projects are likely to be moved around on DOT’s calendar. And now,they have to replace the bridge over 29 that the truck damaged a few weeks ago.”
The interchange is a key element in a project that will eventually extend Cherokee Road all the way to Main Street. “We have purchased the land necessary to bring Cherokee to Main, thereby creating a four way intersection that can be developed commercially. Hopefully, the rural part of Cherokee Road will develop residentially once it is extended and the interchange is installed.”
Durham acknowledges that such development would be more likely if Cherokee Road was significantly improved, but he adds that no encouragement has been forthcoming from the county on such a possibility. “Actually, we don’t get much encouragement from the county about anything like that.”
Durham repeated a frequently heard complaint that the citizens of the towns in the county are paying double for their services. “Our residents pay county taxes as well as municipal taxes, but we don’t get the same level of services. I understand that the General Assembly has been holding back on the aid to subdivisions, or the share of taxes that are returned to the counties, and eventually to the municipalities. But the county has more than one revenue stream to access, while the towns don’t.”
Other mayors, such as Honea Path’s Lollis Meyers have long argued that their citizens get short shrift when it comes to county services. Durham acknowledges Lollis’s leadership in the matter of double taxes, but suggests that getting all or several of the county’s mayors together to make the point might be more effective.
Durham would also like to see a system put in place where different towns could be rewarded for good fiscal performance, as well as based on population. “It is an idea that at least deserves to be studied as a possible approach,” said the mayor.