Waring wants Council to show West Ashley the money

Waring wants Council to show West Ashley the money
August 27 02:17 2016 Print This Article

Charleston City Councilman Keith Waring recently addressed the West Ashley – James Island Business Association (WAJIBA) to discuss the West Ashley revitalization plan. He emphasized that true West Ashley revitalization will require a financial commitment from City Council.

WAJIBA meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month at Bessinger’s BBQ, 1602 Savannah Highway. All meetings are open to the public. It includes business leaders representing a broad spectrum of industries, many of whom are passionate about making West Ashley a better place to live, work and play.

Waring cited the forthcoming West Ashley Redevelopment Plan, which was presented to City Council at its July 19 meeting. $350,000 has been allocated to study the plan, which will examine economic development, transportation, zoning, drainage, public safety, parks and other aspects of future West Ashley development. City Council has not yet approved the members of the Revitalization Commission, which may be taken up at its September 13 meeting.

Northbridge Park is a revitalization success story. Former City Councilman Paul Tinkler joined with Councilwoman Colleen Condon to ensure that West Ashley residents had access to a waterfront park. City Councilman Aubry Alexander succeeded Tinkler and built a coalition of West Ashley Councilman to approve funding for the $1.5 Million park, which opened in 2014.

Waring notes that it took a lot of money to revitalize our downtown area, and that the city must make a financial commitment to revitalize West Ashley. He notes that none of the 2% hospitality sales tax revenue collected for more than 20 years has gone to West Ashley projects. The tax generated $14.6 Million during the last fiscal year.

Other proposed sources of revenue for West Ashley revitalization include the accommodations tax on hotel rooms, revenue bonds and a proposed Tax Incremental Finance District (TIF), which would use commercial property tax revenue to finance infrastructure improvements. The purpose of a TIF is to attract more private sector investment. Several TIF districts have attracted significant private sector investment downtown.

Standing with Waring at the WAJIBA meeting were West Ashley City Councilmen Bill Moody, Marvin Wagner and Dean Riegel and former Councilmen Aubry Alexander and Larry Shirley. Waring used a metaphor for West Ashley’s limited clout by describing the contrast between the beautiful landscaping at Hampton Park (near The Citadel) with an irrigation system and the scant landscaping at Northbridge Park with no maintenance support.

Shirley told the crowd that West Ashley residents and businesses need to raise their visibility to get the projects they want funded. He told them that whenever a downtown issue is presented to City Council, City Hall is packed with advocates and that few turn out when West Ashley projects are on the agenda.  West Ashley residents need to get involved to get a piece of the pie that has been funding downtown improvements for the last twenty years.