by John Steinberger | May 6, 2017 3:22 pm
More than 100 people attended a planning session Saturday morning at Bees Landing Recreation Center. Participants gathered around tables, marked up maps of West Ashley and made recommendations for what they wanted to see in the future. On Monday, the process shifts to an open design studio at Citadel Mall in which concerned citizens may drop in during the week and comment on design drawings generated from the planning sessions like the one at Bees Landing.
Most of the participants Saturday live along the Bees Ferry Road corridor and shared common concerns over traffic congestion, flooding and the need for more high quality shopping. Here are some of the suggestions which were offered:
Stormwater drainage. Most of the groups listed drainage as a problem. Thousands of homes in the area have sustained flooding damage during the past several years. A suggestion was made to dig a reservoir to store stormwater runoff. The City of Charleston has commissioned a drainage study for the Church Creek Basin and the consultant contract is expected to be letted soon.
Improve the image of West Ashley. There were many comments about the need to make the area more appealing to visitors through improved landscaping, signage, tree buffers, code enforcement and architectural design. Of particular concern was the appearance of Ashley River Road and the “gateways” visitors pass through as they enter Charleston. Several respondents suggested that West Ashley should by re-branded as “Charleston’s Birthplace.”
Better retail environment. There was strong sentiment for the need to have thriving shopping centers like South Windermere and St. Andrews throughout West Ashley. Several groups recommending giving incentives for developers to renovate existing or abandoned shopping centers (like Church Creek Plaza) rather than building new ones. There was a strong desire to attract more upscale restaurants and retailers.
Relieve traffic congestion. There were numerous ideas exchanged on how to improve traffic flow. Upgrading the design of Glenn McConnell Parkway, the entrance to I-526, West Ashley Circle and the Main Rd. and Savannah Hwy. intersection was a common recommendation. It was suggested that traffic lights be reprogrammed based on peak traffic flow times. Respondents expressed a willingness to use mass transit if there were park and ride options available and a reliable route schedule.
The open design studio will kick off Monday at 4 pm at the Center Court section of Citadel Mall (near the exit of JC Penney). It will remain open throughout the week during normal operating hours. There will be a series of technical meetings focused on areas such as economic development, stormwater drainage, historical preservation and zoning. A summary presentation based on community input will be held Sat., May 13 from 10 am to noon. The West Ashley Revitalization Commission will use the summary to propose a West Ashley Master Plan to Charleston City Council.
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