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Letter to the Editor: Who benefits from the median project at Pawleys Island?

  • Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Note: The following letter has been sent to the SC Department of Transportation and members of Georgetown County Council.

Ask yourselves please: Is the Rt 17 median project really being done for the benefit of PI or for other reasons?

What specifically provoked the County Council and SCDOT to produce a study to redesign the medians, stop lights and U-turns in Pawleys Island; what issues caused the study to be ordered?

Why was opposition summarily shut down? The Citizens Coalition for Ocean Highway, AKA Don’t Strip the Neck, the opposition group, feels that its due process rights were shut out by local politicians. Was the closure of public comment before the information, requested in the minutes of County Council hearings, the right thing to do? CCOH had sought accident crash data from the Council, the State DOT or from Stantec, but this information was not supplied, or even made available to them by you or any of the contractors involved. The information was delayed many months beyond the close of the public comment portion of your hearings, even though the information sought was elemental to proper public discussions on the matter of safety and the roadways ultimate final design. After public comment was closed, after long delays and after many private donor dollars were expended, after the crash data information was finally obtained for review by third party entities with professional standing who were able to evaluate, critique it, you deny that flaws exist in your plan. CCOH is interested in only one thing, separating actual facts from fiction?

Was the public really “snowed” by a PI Council member, by a GSATS representative, by an ”anxious to move traffic” State DOT head, by a not so dis-involved DOT representative, by Stantec, a no-bid design firm to submit nebulous at best and incomplete designs, with the sole purpose of deliberately deceiving the public? Was it their sole intention to “camouflage” the real nature of this project as a beautification project specifically designed to reduce public comment and uproar, to relax them? Were the designs put forward to the public presented in a such a “low key and casual manner” that would give the community the impression that what was being proposed, or would imposed be a rather more fitting term, would benefit them? Or was it actually an “improve the flow of traffic between Port of Wilmington and Georgetown plan,” a flawed plan at that was to be unwittingly forced upon them? We say the latter based on the fact that the design does nothing but disrupt, create problems for business and shoppers alike, create more room for more traffic and pedestrian accidents and dissuade visitors and guests from coming here.

Why were road Improvements, widening of the shoulders and sidewalks for Pettigrew, MLK, Parkersville and other side streets stemming off Rt 17, critical items which must be an inherent part of any discussions for RT 17 improvements, not addressed by the SCDOT/Stantec plan? Was it because SCDOT and Stantec are not in the least interested in the affects their designs have on the citizens of PI? Every citizen in our community has a right to be safe when walking down the street in front of their homes, on their way to schools, on their bicycles and on their way to shop or pray. This is a discussion CCOH and our inner community leadership still needs to discuss with you, but were denied having as a direct result of the quick closure of public hearings.

We ask each County Council member to vote their individual feelings toward the project, rather than sustain the preferences of the lead Councilman from the particular area affected. I implore you to think of the things the SCDOT plans did not tell you, like those trucks moving through residential neighborhoods not equipped with proper shoulders or sidewalks? Is Georgetown going to be paying for repairs to side roads not originally designed to handle 64,000 lb vehicles? Your decision should be based on your own inner voices, on your own terms between you and your constituents; a bad decision by you now, will have profoundly negative effects upon Georgetown, PI and the entire Waccamaw Neck for years to come. Flaws in design need to be flushed to the surface and addressed before ground is broken….

In light of the misgivings the community you serve has identified, we ask for County Council to override Bob Anderson and Jerry Oakley’s wishes to deny formation of a task force we have sought. In lieu of allowing the creation of a task force to review the design, please kindly agree to reconvene another round of public hearings on the matter to make every citizen of PI and the rest of the Waccamaw Neck feel that we have been given the due process we are entitled to, that every misgiving they have regarding this project has been allayed, that every safety question has been solidly addressed, that every child and citizen is protected, by this design, before you agree to move even a single shovel of dirt in implementing it.

Respectfully,

Robert S. Dimesky

Pawleys Island

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