Pelzer begins Master Plan process

By Stan Welch
The Town of Pelzer launched its master plan process, with a series of round table discussions Thursday. The day began with elected officials of the town escorting the paid consultants from MKSK around town acquainting them with the various features and points of interest.
The steering committee, made up of the town council, three representatives of the consulting firm and a couple of county staffers then gathered for as brief lunch before getting down to work. Tee Coker, of MKSK, told the group that there were three basic issues to address. “We need to identify what is working right now; what the challenges are; and where to place our focus.”
To assist in that task, Coker suggested four guiding principles. “These are intended to reflect the community’s core values, to serv e as guideposts so that we don’t stray too far from our goals as we work through this process.” The first principle Coker suggested was to celebrate the Saluda. ”The river is of course a tremendous attraction for the town. At this time, I would describe Pelzer as a town with a river. But it may turn out that Pelzer needs to become a river town.”
The next principle is to remember the community’s roots. “One of the challenges that any town with such a rich history faces is how to change and grow without abandoning or losing that heritage.  Obviously there are structural reminders of that history here in Pelzer, but there are other, less obvious vestiges that need to be honored as well.”
The third principle plays into that, with a challenge to build a new legacy by reinvigorating the old mill sites and leveraging them to create new, vibrant facilities at the sites. And the final principle is to foster investment; again using the existing resources to attract future interest in the economy of the town.
Councilman Gary Pridmore expressed his concerns that the town council wasn’t being kept informed, and intimated that the Pelzer Heritage Commission had failed to include the town’s leaders in their efforts. PHC representative Larry Coker explained that his organization had been very quiet in recent months and have been focused on cleaning up the old mill sites.
PHC was originally formed to function as a tax exempt organization that would be authorized to receive grant monies; monies that have been used to maintain the cemetery behind the community building and to resolve the environmental issues that existed at the mill sites.
Pridmore also complained that only certain business owners had been invited to attend the economic development roundtable, scheduled for later in the day. He explained Bill Jeanes had not been contacted about attending. Town Clerk Cheryl Boudreau responded that she thought Jeanes’ business interests are located outside the town limits.
When Pridmore informed her they did not, she said that Jeanes receives no water bill. Pridmore informed her that Jeanes’ three businesses were on a well.
Coker offered an olive branch by stating that he thought that the meeting itself was an excellent opportunity for the two entities to begin to work more closely together. County ombudsman Steve Newton followed suit, caling the beginning of the planning process an historic day and pouring more oil on the waters. Coker then announced that the time had arrived for the first round table, involving elected officials, including State Representatives Anne Thayer and West Cox, as well Sen. Mike Gambrell.A later round table will involve cultural and arts stakeholders, followed by an economic development discussion. The long day will conclude with a public open house from 6p.m. till 8 p.m. The information gathered will be compiled and collated, and applied to the appropriate aspects of the study. Meetings are scheduled for July and August as well, with a presentation of the final plan in August at a date to be determined.