The pavers are (finally!) in, and work on the alley project is continuing! This common area and the bathroom is going to be a great addition to downtown Simpsonville! When I was running for Council, I told you downtown needed to become a place where people come to visit and stay awhile. This helps achieve that goal. So do many of our other ongoing downtown projects. Promises made, promises kept.
Promises made, promises kept: the Green Line section of the Swamp Rabbit Trail is coming to downtown Simpsonville! City Council voted tonight. In 2015, I told you “It’s a no-brainer, in my opinion: we need to bring the SRT to Simpsonville, sooner rather than later” (see original blog post here). I promised to focus on getting it done because it’s good for Simpsonville and for all of us who live, work,and play here. And here we are. Finally. And the Golden Strip Trails group will continue to work to connect us to our sister cities. This is just the beginning! This section of the trail will be paid for from our Hospitality & Accommodations Tax funds, not your property tax dollars. Also, County Councilman Dan Tripp helped us out with some County dollars.
Promises made, promises kept: the Green Line section of the Swamp Rabbit Trail is coming to downtown Simpsonville! City Council voted tonight. In 2015, I told you “It’s a no-brainer, in my opinion: we need to bring the SRT to Simpsonville, sooner rather than later” (see original blog post here: https://bit.ly/2vWwEcp). I promised to focus on getting it done because it’s good for Simpsonville and for all of us who live, work,and play here. And here we are. Finally. And the Golden Strip Trails group will continue to work to connect us to our sister cities. This is just the beginning! This section of the trail will be paid for from our Hospitality & Accommodations Tax funds, not your property tax dollars. Also, County Councilman Dan Tripp helped us out with some County dollars.
Construction on the public bathrooms downtown is underway and expected to be complete by the end of May. This is going to be a great addition to downtown. When you come to visit, you can stay a while. That’s good for us locals, our out-of-town visitors, and our local downtown businesses! I promised in 2015 to work towards making downtown that kind of place: promises made, promises kept!
How many times have you found yourself stuck in a line of cars behind someone turning left onto Main from Curtis St. and thought, “Why can’t we have a left turn lane and signal at this intersection?!?” If you’re like many people, it’s happened quite a lot. Everyone who travels through downtown knows what a traffic jam is created by people turning left. And people in the surrounding neighborhoods know (and have complained) about how often people cut through to avoid that intersection and the jam.
At tonight’s Committee of the Whole Meeting, Council voted in favor of a proposal that would provide a solution: left turn lanes and signals at the Curtis/Main intersection. The proposal does eliminate some on street parking (4 spaces on one side of Curtis and 8 on the other) to provide the space required to create the turn lanes.
The city is working together with SCDOT and the County Transportation Committee to secure funding for the project. We originally talked about this proposal at the June Committee of the Whole Meeting and since that time the City Administrator has met with representatives from DOT and the County and has solicited input and feedback from local small business owners downtown.
The loss of on street parking is a concern to some business owners and to Council. However, I feel like the loss of parking is outweighed by the benefit of better traffic flow through town. The rest of Council seems to be in agreement.
Also, it is notable that we have public parking at City Hall that is underutilized for the businesses on the east side of Curtis. And the City Administrator is currently in discussions with the Verdons about purchasing property for additional downtown public parking (remember that Verdin Veterinary has moved and been renamed).
This proposal for turn lanes and signals at the Curtis St. intersection will now come before Council for a final vote at the next Business Meeting. If you have questions or concerns, reach out to our City Administrator or anyone on Council.
Last night one of the topics Council discussed was the disbursement of A-Tax funds for the upcoming year. As a reminder, A-tax (or accommodations tax) funds are those that are collected when we go out to local businesses and eat. There’s an extra 2% tax. Once collected, that money is put into a Special Revenue Fund. Those funds are restricted by state law to pay for things that serve and attract tourists and benefit those tourists who regularly visit the city. State law also dictates that an A-Tax Committee is appointed by Council to make recommendations regarding disbursement of available funds each year.
The A-Tax Committee receives applications for those funds. They review them and make recommendations to Council. Last night, we received their recommendations. One of the items I was most excited about was the awarding of funds for the building of public restrooms downtown. With the exception of the Councilwoman from Ward 4, we all approved of this item. Ms. Braswell expressed concern that such a project did not meet the A-tax guidelines. She doesn’t think they’re tourism-related. I disagree. So did Councilman Gooch and Mayor Curtis in their comments, and the other 3 councilmembers did by virtue of their votes. The vote was 6-1.
Last Friday night, I went downtown, and it was hopping! People were everywhere. In large part, I believe this is because we have attracted the right businesses to our downtown area. In the last several months, we’ve had many new establishments open: What’s on Tap, Sweet Sippin’, Authentique, and now Rail Line Brewing! The new swings and the rejuvenated park benches all contribute to making downtown a great
place to hang out. So it’s not surprising that this is the first time I’ve seen downtown so busy outside of special events. It was amazing. And you better believe some of those people were from outside the city limits. Further, every time we hold an event downtown, we bring in people from outside the city. But there’s no place to use the bathroom unless you visit one of the local businesses. So I don’t see how public restrooms for those people to use is anything other than a facility that will “benefit those tourists who regularly visit the city.”
Since this was a Committee of the Whole Meeting, we will have a final vote at our November Business Meeting. I hope Council continues to support funding this item. It can only help as we continue to grow our downtown into a place where people want to visit and stay awhile, and that’s something I’ve been focused on since my Campaign Launch. It will also fit in nicely with the plan we submitted for the Hometown Economic Development grant to turn the empty downtown alley into a new dynamic outdoor space.
In 2015, I promised to work towards improving our downtown. Today, we’re making that happen: promises made, promises kept.