By Stan Welch
The recent adoption of a resolution endorsing a shared use path by the towns of Pelzer, West Pelzer and Williamston may be a harbinger of increased cooperation and joint efforts by the three towns to achieve various goals in the future.
Within the month of January, all three town councils adopted a resolution seeking the funding and establishment of a shared use path along the old, abandoned railroad bed that connects all three towns. Based on scheduling, the Williamston Council adopted the resolution first, on Monday, January 4. The next night, the West Pelzer Council, after amending the language of the resolution to specify the path as a sidewalk, also adopted the resolution, followed the next week by the Pelzer Council.
While indicative of an intention to work more closely together, the votes to adopt simply scratch the surface of bringing the project to fruition. Currently, there is no funding in place for the project.
West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders described the vote as a means to “just get the ball rolling.” Any funding will have to come from the Greenville – Pickens Area Transportation Study (GPATS). The three towns share one seat on that study panel; a seat that has been essentially ceded to Sanders.
For the last term, Williamston Mayor Mack Durham held that seat, but newly elected Mayor Rockey Burges , and Pelzer Mayor Will Ragland, have agreed that Sanders, whose professional training is in public administration and related matters, is the best choice to fill that position. Unless that arrangement is altered, Sanders will hold the seat for the remaining three plus years of his term; and possibly beyond, if he seeks and achieves re-election.
In a telephone interview with The Journal, Sanders expounded on the potential for increased collaboration between the three towns. “I think each of us views his role as mayor differently, which plays into the cooperative aspects of the situation,” Sanders said. “For example, Mayor Ragland, as a theatrical director, has a well developed eye for the visual aspects of things, as well as a constituency that tends towards wanting to see visible change in their town. Mayor Burgess, as a successful businessman, tends to be more hands on as a mayor, and is always seeking fiscal efficiency. As an urban/community planner. I see my role as something of a visionary, and my constituency tends to accept and encourage me in that role.”
Sanders emphasizes that the three mayors have no formal schedule to confer, but says that the towns are increasingly tied together in terms of their future. “Recreation, education, even infrastructure are shared concerns for all of us. I think, despite our unique views of our towns and our roles in their leadership, we all recognize that we are stronger working together than we are working alone.”
Of the three mayors, only Ragland faces an election within the near future. Burgess just began his first term as mayor; Sanders has a little more than three years remaining on his term.