Williamston approves funding for soil remediation, outfall line

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During their meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council approved additional funding of $95,000 for soil remediation in the park and passed a resolution in support of a $500,000 forgiveable loan to address a sewer outfall line problem.
Council also approved a revised business license ordinance. The ordinance brings the town in compliance with a new state statute which standardizes when business licenses across the state are due.
Council approved second reading to appropriate funding for soil remediation needed for planned Pickleball courts in the park. After considerable discussion, Council approved funding of $95,609 for the project.
Soil remediation is needed to address wet soil conditions in the basketball and former tennis court area of the park. The town is planning to convert the area to a pickleball court. Councilmembers Lee Cole and Tony Hagood expressed concerns about the added cost to the project, which has already been allocated $160,000.
Half of the cost of the pickleball court was approved in this 2020-21 budget and the remainder will be in the 2021-22 current year budget. The funding will come from the Hospitality Tax fund. With the added soil remediation, approximately $10,000 may come out of the general fund.
Cole said it was a high expense item but could be multi use. “It is more expense, but is revitalizing that area of the park which has been neglected.” He said pickleball is very popular but if it loses interest, the area can be converted to basketball or back to tennis court in the future.
Mayor Burgess said he also had reservations, but it is unused space. “If we do nothing it will remain in that condition. If we do this, it can be converted into something else, even into a parking lot. We are spending money to make space usable.”
Councilman Hagood said, “It is big ticket item.” He expressed concern about using so much money from the Hospitality Tax fund and suggested waiting until next year to be in better financial position. “It is a want, not a need,” he said.
Council also approved a resolution to accept DHEC loan assistance funding of $500,000 to address a problem with the sewer outfall line along Big Creek. The line, which follows Big Creek to the Saluda River, is the discharge line for the town’s treated sewer water. Mayor Burgess said the pipe along a section of the creek has become exposed due to a washout. The area is very hard to access and the project will be costly to address. “The line is laying on the side of the creek,” Burgess said. “It is a major problem.”
The funding will come through the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) from the SC Water Quality Revolving Fund Authority. Mayor Burgess said the loan is 100 percent forgivable. Total cost for the project has been estimated to be $540,000.
Burgess said the town fronted the cost to have an engineering firm draw up the plans for the project before the loan was applied for.
The project should be completed by June or July, he said.
During public comments portion of the meeting, Macedonia pastor Ron Phillips requested use of the park for a prayer rally event. Phillips said he plans to organize the event to “Pray for the nation” and hopes to have well known speaker(s). He will bring the request back to council when a date and time is set.
Police Chief Tony Taylor recognized four officers for their professionalism during a recent incident that was first called in as a possible gunshot victim. The incident happened at the Clock restaurant parking lot and turned out to be cardiac arrest due to a head injury resulting from a fall. Officers Josh Whitt, Sgt. Lauren Mulz, Officers Conner Burgess and Chris Trotter were recognized for their contributions. According to Taylor, Officer Whitt performed CPR on the victim who was in cardiac arrest when officers arrived. Sgt. Mulz coordinated and held things together on the scene. Officer Burgess talked to witnesses and helped attend to needs of the victim. Officer Trotter secured the scene in order to collect evidence.
“All of these officers did a great job,” Chief Taylor said. “It was a chaotic scene. It was very impressive to see all of our officers in action. They did a fantastic job at a crime scene.”
Trotter, who is also a local business owner, was also recognized for the donation of a fully equipped police vehicle to the Williamston Police Department. The donation came from his business, Twice the Ice.
Mayor Rockey Burgess said, “It was a very generous donation.”
Envision Williamston Chairman Marion Williams announced that EW Board Member Roberta Hamby had been offered a part-time position as Executive Director of the organization.
“She has accepted,” he said.
Hamby has been serving as the Interim Director during recent months and was instrumental in coordinating the Williamston Wonderland event held recently in conjunction with the Christmas Park opening.
Hamby said the event had more than 2000 people attend and received “huge positive feedback”.
She said there was a very positive economic impact for several local businesses that brought in additional help due to the number of people in town for the event.
She reported that Carolina Best Landscaping has been awarded the contract to construct a fire pit in Mineral Spring Park, which should be completed in February. Hamby also said that Envision Williamston is in the process of planning a big Spring event.
Hamby reported that Envision Williamston is reopening the facade grant and Main Street Challenge programs to encourage business improvement and development. Each program has a total of $5000 available for current or new prospective businesses to apply for.
Mayor Burgess thanked the Envision Williamston organization for their work on the Winter Wonderland. “You have set the bar high,” he said. “It really was a Hallmark moment.”
Three members of the Upward Leadership Council Service Organization attended the meeting. Attending were Claire Barnes, Madison Cox and Tyler Ledbetter. The organization, which serves the community through service, has about 50 Palmetto High students as members.