Summerville Mayor Wiley Johnson does monthly public forums the Wed. before the second Thursday Town Council meetings. While he addresses a live audience at Summerville Town Hall, he also broadcasts the forums live on Facebook and takes questions from his Facebook audience. http://www.Facebook.com/TownOfSummervilleSC
Johnson defeated incumbent Mayor Bill Collins in 2015 on the principle that Summerville should not invest public funds and have financial obligations for a proposed hotel and conference center called The Dorchester. The developer filed a breach of contract lawsuit. Johnson told the audience, “We (the Town of Summerville) fulfilled our end (of the contract). Building a hotel should not be the Town’s business.” He praised a similar projected approved in the Nexton community (outside the town limits), citing it was a privately financed venture.
Addressing the budgeting process, Johnson announced a proposed two-day retreat involving City Council, town staff and local stakeholders. He noted that the current fiscal year budget was put together entirely by city staff, without input from himself, City Council or community groups.
Johnson referred to several projects the newly formed Beautification Committee will work on in conjunction with the Parks and Recreation staff. The committee will look at uses for the Town’s tree fund, which is financed by fines imposed on property owners who remove trees without a permit. Johnson cited the shrinking canopy in the community noted for its tall pines. It will also work on a landscaping plan along the state-funded Gehagan Trail.
The Mayor fielded a Facebook question concerning the impact of massive development in Nexton on Summerville’s traffic and drainage. He said that the completion of the Berlin G. Meyers Pkwy and improvements along Gum St. are essential to relieving traffic congestion. Johnson noted that Nexton development will have an impact on drainage at the Sawmill Branch as well as Richardson Creek and Azalea Park and that the town must address that.
Another Facebook participant expressed concern over the high turnover rate among retailers in the downtown area. Johnson shared the concern but reiterated that he is against the government funding private ventures. He encouraged the Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce to do more to attract new businesses and expressed openness to providing incentives to make Summerville a desired location.
The Summerville Town Council meets Thurs., Mar. 9 at 6 pm at Town Hall, 200 S. Main St. The agenda and document package is available at SummervilleSC.gov.