By Stan Welch
The night before their regular monthly business meeting, in a ‘special’ meeting, Pelzer Town Council met to discuss their goals for the town, and to set priorities for meeting those goals. On hand to assist them was Jeff Shacker, field services manager for the Municipal Association of South Carolina (MASC).
After presentation on the origins of the MASC, and the various methods of approaching the objectives of the evening, Shacker went from one Council member to the next, asking their desires for actions or goals to be set on one of three tiers of prioritization: must do, should do, and could do.
Alisha Tuttle, newly elected in November, said she would like to see the town put on a quarterly festival or event. She agreed that a committee to decide what types of events would be helpful. Mayor Will Ragland said he wanted to see the town get out of the water and sewer business. Ragland said progress had been made in that direction, but some holdups at the federal level were being experienced.
Councilman Eddie Waits expressed a desire to pursue federal funding to rehabilitate some of the poorer housing in the town. He said that the USDA had grants and low interest loans available, but the twenty four page application was intimidating to many of the town’s citizens. He would like to find someone to help with the paperwork.
Shacker added that the Appalachian Regional Council, an adjunct of the Appalachian Council of Governments, has similar programs available, such as Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), as well as personnel who can provide guidance and assistance.
Councilman Mike Matthews predictably called for the renovation and repurposing of the town’s historic buildings, such as the old hospital, which he wants to see used to house the town hall. “We don’t need individual offices with fifty thousand dollars worth of furniture in them, like Williamston and West Pelzer.”
Recently elected Councilman Skip Goldsmith wants to see the town achieve a consistent, sufficient revenue stream, which, given the town’s absence of a taxing authority, is more of a challenge than it may seem. He also would like to pass a zoning ordinance to protect the properties in the old mill village from encroachment, either physical or stylistic, by outside development.
Working through the second and third tier, council members came up with a wide spectrum of ideas, including establishing a town square; exploring relocation of the post office; create an incentive to entice ACSO deputies to live in the town, thereby expanding the police presence; and approaching the Pelzer Heritage Commission about conveying a piece of property to the town to be used as a park. A total of thirty goals was produced.
The special meeting lasted many times longer than the regular business meeting Tuesday night. Council voted to accept a low bid of $3950 from Ridgewater Engineering and Surveying, LLC for the survey of the Monkey Park and two other pieces of municipal property. They also approved a bid of $4377 for the renovation of the lobby at the town hall. Councilman Mike Matthews questioned the expenditure, saying the money would be better spent on the proposed renovation of the old hospital building, which is slated to become the town hall and offices when it is finally renovated.