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City Council, May 13

Presentations, Recognitions and long invocations
Consent for Port Access road
Marc Knapp

But for presentations and recognitions, and the lengthy invocation by Council member Riegel, last night’s meeting would have been short. There was little of substance on the agendas of the Council or Ways and Means.

Amongst the recognitions was that of Peace Officer’s Memorial Day on May 15. The day is dedicated nationally to fallen officers working in law enforcement. Flags on public buildings will be flown at half-mast. The 50th anniversary of the founding of Trident Technical College was also recognized. Mary Thornley, the head of the College was on the podium to receive the recognition. Her long tenure prompted some humor from the Mayor who ad-libbed part of the presentation stating with a straight face that she had been employed by the college since she was 4 years old. Ms. Thornley immediately gave the Mayor a big hug and later in her formal response declared the Mayor was suggesting that “she was as old as dirt”. She added that so was the Mayor, and looking at his gray hair, noted that she used a rinse. It was a warming recognition. Both the Mayor and Ms. Thornley spoke of the college’s achievements and the importance to the community. With 17,000 students, Trident Tech ranks second amongst colleges in South Carolina in enrollments. The University of South Carolina ranks first.

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The resolution relating to the new Port Access Road from I-26 generated little discussion. This issue was controversial and affected some neighborhoods along its path. But as Diane Knich pointed out in the lead story in the Post and Courier today, the affected neighborhoods came to agreement with the SC DOT and the City in regards to mitigation. The Mayor publicly thanked Council member Mitchell last night for the role he played in shaping the agreement. The Council member represents the district.

The access road will replace the exit road close to the junction of the Cities of Charleston and North Charleston and will link I-26 with the new port in North Charleston being built by the State Ports Authority. SC DOT has agreed to provide $500,000 for “community improvements” and also to build a sound barrier along the exit ramp. As Ms. Knich’s story notes, I-26 cut through the Rosemount community when it was built some 50 years ago. The new access road will take away another slice.

The resolution before Council last night was in support of the Access Road which lies largely in the City of Charleston. State Law requires the consent of a municipality for SC DOT work.

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The only other item of interest last night was the decision to move ahead with a condemnation of a property on Sycamore Avenue in West Ashley. There was nothing in the public information packages about the condemnation. But we understand there are issues as to the actual size of the parcel, and the ownership of the wetlands. Because of this, the City and the owner could not come to an agreement. The property is at the northern end of the avenue and City plans to make the property part of a park. The park is close to the West Ashley Bikeway.

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