The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
Transportation Advisory Board September 21
Public meetings, principles for prioritizing, and Board member PenaMarc Knapp
Details of the planned public meetings and principles for assessing the priority of transportation projects occupied most of yesterday's meetings. We won't dwell of the discussion about the public meetings - it was essentially about housekeeping matters. Suffice to say that there will be five meetings, the first on September 27 and the last on October 13. The details are at the bottom of this note. The meetings are allied with the task of the Consultant to develop a Comprehensive Transportation Plan for submission to the Transportation Advisory Board (TAB) and ultimately, the County Council. This plan will, or should be, the basis for spending of sales tax funds allocated to Transportation.
As noted at the meeting by my colleague Warwick Jones, we can only hope that the literature set before the public has some note of the role of the TAB. The flyers or posters advertising the public meetings have no reference at all to the TAB, let alone its role. Those involved in the preparation stated the omission of a reference to the TAB was oversight, not an attempt to marginalize the importance of the body. Interestingly, the Chairman and other board members had stated earlier in the meeting how important it was to inform the public of the TAB's role.
An attempt to define principles for prioritizing
With the leading of Chairman Knott, the TAB spent about an hour discussing principles for assessing priority of transportation projects. In a sense this was an attempt similar to that of the Greenbelt Advisory Board's effort to define "greenbelts" - an attempt to put in place the first building block. The TAB attempted to define principles with a view to placing them in front of the public for its view. The final "principles" would be determined after the public meetings and with further public input.
To start the process Chairman Knott posted criteria used by the State, CHATS and the Noisette Company. (He is principal of this company, which is developing part of the old naval base in Charleston) The Board then proceeded to add its own "principles" and eliminate duplication. TAB members were then given 5 stickers to attach to those, which they felt were the most important.
The top choices
The top choices are as follows. The wording of the choices is ours. There were some disputes in the discussion as to the precision of some phrases and the nuances were not always captured in the writings on the boards before the TAB. We also felt that there was a degree of duplication amongst the principles.
• Greatest benefit to most people
• Ability to allow funds to be leveraged from State, Federal, or other sources.
• Projects that give regional benefits.
• Projects that improve interconnectivity (between neighborhoods and major centers or roads).
• Projects that allow completion of, or enhancement of existing infrastructure over the creation of new infrastructure.
• Projects that are multi modal or multi purpose.
Criteria that did not make the list included
• Projects that minimize the use of gasoline
• Projects supported by the community
One Board member asked whether "safety" should be included as a principle but the idea was rejected. As the Chairman stated, "safety" should be implied in all "principles" determined by the Board, it did not need to be noted separately.
We expect the "principles" will be refined and modified at the next meeting and certainly before they are set before the public.
Tardiness of Board members
Attendance at meetings of the TAB has been an issue for this writer for some months. We have noted the tardiness of some members and have drawn attention to it. We cannot let pass the fact that Board member Hernan Pena has missed nearly all of the meetings of the TAB since its creation including yesterday's meeting. If every member of the TAB had a similar record of attendance, it would become a joke. Mr. Pena is the appointment of the City of Charleston and also head of its Transportation Department. If he were a member of the Greenbelt Advisory Board, the Mayor of Charleston would have received a note from the Chairman noting his continued absence, with the implied request - Do something about it! As we said before, we fear that some people would like to see the TAB marginalized. The seeming endorsement of Board member Pena's tardiness suggests that the Mayor falls into this camp. If Mr. Pena's obligations allow no time for the TAB, the Mayor should make another appointment.
Meetings to receive input from the public in relation to transportation projects and sales tax spending are as follows
• Tuesday, September 27, 4pm-8pm - North Charleston Performing Arts Center, 5100 Coliseum Drive, North Charleston.
• Tuesday, October 4, 4pm-8pm - Mount Pleasant Municipal Complex Gym, 100 Ann Edward Lane Mount Pleasant.
• Thursday, October 6, 4pm-8pm - St James -Santee Elementary School Gym, 8900 North Highway 17, McClellanville.
• Tuesday, October 11, 4pm-8pm - West Ashley Intermediate School Gym, 721Wappoo Road, Charleston.
• Thursday, October 13, 4pm-8pm - Baptist Hill High School Gym, 5117 Baptist Hill Road, Hollywood.