Alder Park Walking Trail Celebration

Sent some notes to some of our Westwood neighbors to let them know about our upcoming celebration of the new walking trail at Alder Park. It’s Saturday, Jan. 8th at 3 PM. We’re going to walk together (it’s about 1/3 mile loop), and we’ll have some post-walk refreshments. If you haven’t been out to Alder Park lately, come check out the new walking trail, as well as all of the other improvements made over the last year. Happy new year.

Here’s to 2022!

What a year for Simpsonville, y’all! In reflecting on all of the great things that have happened in our city this year, I realize just how much we’ve accomplished–so much it’s nearly impossible to summarize it all in a Facebook post (so I’m not going to try today). And we have so many more great things planned for 2022: Milltown Players is coming to the Arts Center; we’ll finish the Woodside Park neighborhood; we’ll see real progress on that downtown Master Plan we’ve been working on (including much-needed traffic improvements downtown!)…and SO much more!

Y’all, it’s a great time to call this city #SimplyHome, and I am looking forward to yet another great year for Simpsonville and to continue working with my fellow City Councilmembers and staff to provide first-rate services to our citizens; stay fiscally responsible (with a keen awareness of how decisions impact taxpayers); promote economic opportunity; support neighborhood vitality; and commit to the community and cultural programs and services that help our city thrive and improve your quality of life. Here’s to 2022!

Habitat Women Build 2021

What a great morning with some great women. Thanks to these ladies who joined my #WomenBuild team as we worked to put some finishing touches on the inside of Lorraine’s home (Lorraine is in the blue sweatshirt). The Women Build house is the third home in the new Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County Woodside Park neighborhood. We’ll dedicate the first completed home on December 19. Eventually there will be 13 homes. 13 families like Lorraine’s. I’m proud of the work we did on Council to bring this project to fruition. And I’m proud of the work we did today! This kind of work creates stronger, more stable families and communities. And when our families thrive, our city thrives.

Women Build Team: Lisa Everidge, Special Events Coordinator for the City of Simpsonville; Janice Curtis, former mayor and small business owner; Rhonda Mauldin, Manager for the West Georgia Rd. Food Lion; Monica Culbreath, Housing Specialist for GCRA; Dana Garrett, US Army Veteran, mother, Simpsonville resident. We’re better together! 💪

Neely Ferry Development Update

More good coverage from Post and Courier Greenville: https://bit.ly/3oW7K92. I think Conor Hughes must not sleep!

From the article:

➡️ “Councilwoman Jenn Hulehan, who represents the ward where the new development would be built, said she agreed a 55-plus community would be a good fit for the property. “While we’re looking at 42 units, we’re only looking at potentially generating the [peak time] traffic of something like 14 regular, single-family home units,” she said.”

➡️ “The request considered Dec. 14 was for innovative development zoning, which would give the city much more control and oversight throughout the process. Zenith also tweaked its plans in light of concerns members of council voiced in September, adding features such as rear entry garages on every unit. The approval also came with the condition that sidewalks inside the development be extended about 500 feet north along Neely Ferry to connect with the crosswalk in front of Plain Elementary.”

📝 Some notes from me:

🚶‍♀️That sidewalk to the cross walk is important. It will help connect that neighborhood not just to the cross walk/school but to Westwood, to Food Lion (and everything in the shopping center), CVS, and even all the way to downtown (I have a senior neighbor who actually walks downtown every day).

🏡 As a Council, we have a responsibility to ensure housing that meets population trends in our city. Boomers are aging. And as they are, they are seeking homes that support their active lifestyles and require less maintenance. In this community, they have access to amenities to support that lifestyle and maintenance is provided via an HOA. We must create a Simpsonville that people can call “simply home” at every phase of life.

🚗 During peak hours, yes, traffic to and from the school is difficult. You have a lot of people trying to get to one place and a lot of people trying to leave one place all at the same time. However, during non-peak times, Neely Ferry can handle the additional 14 homes’ worth of traffic. National traffic studies on senior housing back that up: they generate on average about 1/4 of the traffic of a traditional single-family home. My own experience, which I shared with my colleagues last night, also backs that up. I’ve sat out there with the crossing guard and observed school time traffic. I also walk that way with Oakley every day. Just yesterday, around 3:30, we walked that road from Plain to Capewood, and in about ten minutes, 16 cars passed us. Eight going towards Capewood and eight towards West Georgia. That’s comparable to other non-peak times we’ve walked it and counted.

❓At the end of the day, the Anders family is selling that property; something will go there. The question for Council is what can go there that will be an asset to the city and not create an additional burden on our city resources. I think this plan is the answer. The developer worked hard to address the concerns we originally shared. A public meeting was held at First Baptist Simpsonville for people to share their thoughts on the project. Owners of neighboring properties were notified and asked to share their thoughts. The Innovative Development zoning allows the city to have much more control over what goes there. This project is the result, and it’s a good one.

🤝 It’s also another good example of what happens when we all (Council, Planning Commissioners, property owners, developers, citizens) work together as a team with the city’s best interests at heart. Municipal government is a team sport. We’re better together.

📝 For more notes on green space and amenities like pocket parts, the rubberized walking trail, home elevations and access points, see the list in my previous post: https://bit.ly/3ywz9S7

Last Meeting of 2021

That’s a wrap! We’ve completed the last business meeting of 2021. It was Councilmember Kelley’s last meeting, and the mayor presented her with a plaque for her service. The city has experienced peace and prosperity since 2018. Much of that would not have been possible if Councilmembers Hutchings, Roche, and Kelley had not chosen to run and serve this city when she needed them. The best any of us can ask is that when we leave office, we leave Simpsonville better than it was before. Councilmember Kelley can say that’s true.

We had some great discussion about the Neely Ferry annexation, requested some additional info on the West Georgia Rd one, and approved on final reading the SE Main St one. We also appointed members to the Planning Commission and BZA. Here’s to a peaceful holiday season for us all and continued peace and prosperity for the city in the new year. Merry Christmas, Simpsonville!

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

You don’t know what you don’t know. Mayor Shewmaker always says that’s one of the most important lessons he learned after being elected. And he immediately set about learning. We met shortly after he was elected, and it was a good meeting. Similarly, I recently met with Councilman-elect Rupe. I told Mr. Rupe much what I told the mayor: municipal government is a team sport. I also shared with him lessons learned and advice. I encouraged him to start learning what he doesn’t know he doesn’t know–and there’s a lot. I suggested he started his MASC coursework ASAP and make a goal to graduate by February of 2023. I also recommended he meet with each of the Department Heads. I shared with him how going to Public Works to speak with the staff there was when I learned just what bad shape the department was in. It was while I was there, I heard how under-resourced they were and witnessed with my own eyes the trucks literally being held together with duct tape. I saw the safety concerns first-hand. I didn’t know anything about that before I went down there. You learn a lot by going straight to the source. I told Mr. Rupe he definitely needs to meet with our City Administrator. She runs the city. And she’s doing a darn fine job. That’s because she has the education and experience to lead a city like ours. Getting to know her should be a priority for anyone new coming in. And I also suggested he meet not just with me but with every member of Council. Because each member has different strengths, experiences, backgrounds, and expertise. And that’s what makes our Council effective. We can learn from one another, and we do, and ultimately, that’s how, working together, we come to decisions that are in the best interests of this city and her citizens. Next week is our last Council meeting of 2021. In 2022, Mr. Rupe will join us.

SBS Scavenger Hunt Prizes

SBS Scavenger Hunt Prizes

🍕$25 gift card to Sidewall Pizza Company

🍺1885 Taproom is offering up FOUR $25 gift cards.

🍫$20 gift card to CocoBon Chocolatier.

💍Clark’s Fine Jewelers has donated a Ronaldo bracelet (valued at $225).

🏃‍♀️ Run In Simpsonville has provided a $50 gift card.

🧘‍♀️ Steppingstone Haven Yoga & Spiritual Sanctuary has donated a two-week pass plus one free reiki session.

👩‍⚕️ Horner Chiropractic has donated a free initial chiropractic visit.

💄Merle Norman has given a free deep cleaning facial, which includes a chemical peel ($150 value)

🚗 Upstate Auto Magic donated a $50 gift certificate.

📚Mathnasium Simpsonville has offered a free month of the Mathnasium program for a student 2nd-12th grade.

🍻Gift card or t-shirt to Clocktower Taproom & Billiards

🎸One Month of Lessons FREE from Musically Gifted Lesson and Recording Studios

🧘‍♀️Five Class Yoga Pass from Centered Yoga and Wellness

☕Starbucks Gift Card from Grace Internal Medicine

🐕‍🦺2 free days of doggie daycare from K-9 Corner

🎄A set of Christmas Vacation themed drink ware from The Tutoring Center.

🔨Nailed It DIY: Coupons for 25% off a project booking for all players and a $50 gift certificate for one lucky winner!

Meet us at the clock tower downtown Saturday, November 27th between 9 AM and 12 PM to get your playing card! You can also grab a Chick-fil-A biscuit (while supplies last) and some free swag to show your support of our small businesses!

MTP in 2022

In 2022 our Simpsonville Arts Center will be home to the Mill Town Players! For less than the cost of a matinee at the local cinema, you’ll have access to quality and affordable live theater right here in the heart of Simpsonville.

This is one of many projects we’ve undertaken to enhance quality of life for our residents. Plus, MTP has a demonstrated ability to draw visitors from across the upstate. When people visit Simpsonville for entertainment, they also dine at our local restaurants; they might shop in our stores. This is good for our local economy, and it can bring in tax dollars from others that can help further enhance the quality of life for those who live here.

The Arts Center was our vision for the future back in 2015. In 2022, it will be our reality. When I ran for office, I quoted Henry Ford on several occasions: “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Since 2017, this Council has proven me and Henry right. I hope that over the next two years, we continue, to borrow a phrase from our City Administrator, “rowing in the same direction.” That’s how we avoid the mistakes of our predecessors and continue to promote economic opportunity; support neighborhood vitality; and commit to community and cultural programs and services while remaining fiscally responsible and providing first-rate services. It’s what Simpsonville deserves. #SimplyHome

Low Voter Turnout

At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, the mayor rose to a point of personal privilege to speak about the recent election. The results were certified last Friday. The mayor, a bit of a data nerd like me, had been looking them over and doing some math. He pointed out a sad truth: only 7% of registered voters cast a ballot this election. That’s as low a turnout as I can recall. 7% of voters cast a ballot. Let that sink in. That means 3.6% of registered voters chose the new Councilmember for Ward 2. A mere 7% stepped up to make the choice, and 3.6% chose the person who will represent all 18,000 registered voters, all 23,000+ residents. All of that is to say, echoing the mayor’s comments, that voting is a privilege and a duty. Your vote matters more at the local level than anywhere else. None of us should abdicate that responsibility or give up that privilege to a mere 7% of us. We vote again in two years. I will anyway. And I hope you will too.

The mayor also congratulated Councilmembers Hutchings and Roche on their re-election (which he pointed out was not a given…just ask the mayor of Pacolet), and he congratulated Mr. Rupe on his win (although he unfortunately wasn’t there).