Pelzer Master Plan focuses on historic sites, Saluda River and partnerships

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By Stan Welch
A rough draft of the Pelzer Master Plan was presented Monday night to a small crowd of perhaps fifteen people. Tee Coker, representing MKSK, the planning consultants who are putting the master plan together for the town, called the draft “a gut punch”, the last chance to get responses to the proposal.
The draft identifies four themes to focus on. The first theme is to build a new legacy, using and centering on the town’s various historic sites. Using such sites by reclaiming and creating new facilities, whether private or public would be a possible way to create new opportunities while recognizing the traditions and history of the town.
Secondly, the plan recognizes and celebrates the presence and importance of the Saluda River. In the first stage of information gathering, Coker and others from his firm raised the question of whether Pelzer was a town with a river, or was a river town. This plan makes the town’s commitment to become the latter clear. The almost three miles of river frontage in the town makes it clear that it is the centerpiece, and the key to both commercial and recreational opportunities.
An emphasis on the town’s heritage and history is also a large part of the plan’s focus. In fact the whole plan is designed to both maintain the town’s roots while enabling new growth that is cognitive of that history. Part of that goal would be to restore some of the town’s iconic features. Some of those efforts could be as simple as rehabbing and re-painting the water tower.
The final theme is to foster investment in the town; an effort that Coker acknowledged would best be achieved through partnerships with both private sector sources as well as government agencies. Councilman Eddie Waites said that he would like to see plans for projects that could be immediately undertaken; projects for six months later; then a year; and finally three years. “We (the council) will have plenty of time to digest the final plan and come up with the best way to implement it. MKSK has done a lot of good work for us, but we have to carry it forward. That’s the challenge we have.”