The West Ashley Revitalization Commission (WARC) held its monthly meeting Wed. at the Emanu-El Synagogue in the Park Shore 3 subdivision. The focus of the meeting was announcing a series of interactive meetings requesting citizen input on future plans for West Ashley.
The meeting got off to a rough start when several WARC commissioners argued about the wording of the mission statement for the Communications subcommittee. After the mission statement was approved, subcommittee chair Maria Aselage stated that her main objective is getting the word out to as many people as possible and ensuring that underserved communities feel like they are part of the process.
Consultants Emily Glavey with Dover Kohl and Partners from Coral Gables, FL and Dena Belzer from Strategic Economics out of Berkeley, CA presented planning overviews. They announced the interactive website https://www.planwestashley.com which will be used to gather citizen input through polling questions and comments.
The hands-on design workshops have been scheduled for Apr. 24 and 25 and two meetings on May 6 in four different geographic regions of West Ashley. The next phase of planning will take place May 8-13 in a series of day-long drop-in design studio workshops with conceptual drawings on display.
Belzer presented an economic overview of West Ashley, noting that the area realized a decline in median household income between 2000 and 2015. She noted that West Ashley is a “bedroom community” in which most residents work outside of the area. She also remarked about West Ashley’s aging retail spaces and the need for a strong economic development strategy to attract new businesses.
During the public comment period, Shadowmoss resident Elisabeth Pickelsimer questioned why the planning process would start before West Ashley residents were asked what their objectives were for the process. She expressed concern about the impact high-density development would have on traffic and flooding in her area along the Bees Ferry Rd. corridor.
Wespanee resident Imogene Thomas, a realtor, noted that most of the people in her neighborhood are elderly. She said, “All most of us want is a nice, quiet neighborhood.” She also stated that good places to shop that are easy to get to are important to people in her area.
WARC Chairman Peter Shahid, a Charleston City Councilman, encouraged more people to get involved in the process. He said, “We are only going to be as good as your input allows us to be.” The next WARC meeting will be Wed., Apr. 12 at 5 pm at the former Albemarle School at Magnolia and Sycamore. The renovated office building is now named The Old Schoolhouse.