Gray Drive bridge troubles not over yet


During their meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council heard from two people who reside on opposite sides of the Gray Drive bridge which was recently closed. The bridge, which has been an ongoing issue for more than 20 years, was actually open for about four years until the latest closure.

Williamston resident Pamela Owens asked the town to support reopening the bridge due to emergency situations. As an example, Owens recounted a recent incident involving a 10 year old who had a seizure. According to Owens, Williamston and Pelzer EMS were unavailable and Belton EMS had to respond, having to go through town to get there. “He could have lost his life,” Owens said.

Roger Fields, who lives on the county side of the bridge, said that incidents of theft, property damage and other problems associated with the bridge are reasons not to re-open it. He said that grading it down would be too expensive and recommended it be torn down completely.

During discussion on the issue, Mayor Carthel Crout said that the bridge is not in the town and that it is a county problem. He asked council to make a recommendation to the county on what to do with it.

Crout recommended the town “support residents of Williamston to upgrade and improve it better than what is there.”

Councilman and mayor-elect Mack Durham said he wanted to “look at what can be done to improve safety for our citizens.”

Councilman Mike Looper requested the council go into executive session to discuss a contract issue associated with an email sent from Anderson County about the issue.

When questioned if that was a legitimate issue to be discussed in executive session when it was clearly of public interest and has been ongoing for so long, Mayor Crout began to read the email and then said it was a contractural matter and should be discussed in executive session.

After returning from the closed door session which lasted about 10 minutes, the mayor announced that no decisions had been made, but offered no further explanation.

Acting on a motion by councilman Durham, council then unanimously agreed to make a recommendation to the county and the railroad to make the bridge serviceable to the community.

In other matters, council also agreed to accept a $10,000 grant appropriated by Councilwoman Cindy Wilson and Anderson County Council. The funds will be used to replace fencing around the mineral spring with an ornamental iron fence and for upgrades to gazebos in Mineral Spring Park.

Council unanimously approved second reading on an ordinance amending business license provisions for insurance companies.

Council also agreed to rebid a waste water treatment outfall line on Academy St. after the mayor stated that the only bid received on the project was $30,000 more than budgeted.