Over the last couple of months, much has been written about the area around Mount Pleasant's Shem Creek, including preservation of the shrimping and fishing fleet. The conversation has been generated by a parking garage proposed for the area adjacent to the creek, with the focus on the proposal's height, its location and the ultimate need for the structure.
When people think about Shem Creek, they think about the beauty of the creek with its shrimping and fishing fleet, diving birds searching for their daily meals and graceful porpoises moving in and out of the waterway into the harbor.
They think about great seafood, and they think about amazing sunsets that rival those in any other part of the country. Shem Creek has graced the cover of Southern Living and many other well-known magazines, all of them showcasing some of the things that I have mentioned. Like other areas along the coast, Shem Creek has experienced and will continue to experience development pressures that could forever destroy what makes this area special. Without quick, decisive action, the opportunity to preserve this area and create something special will disappear.
I would suggest that the town has an opportunity to do something very special in this unique area. Mount Pleasant has some of the most talented planning professionals in the country.
Elected officials have reached out time and time again to large numbers of interested citizens to craft plans and design standards for the Coleman Boulevard area, including Shem Creek. Without taking anything away from past efforts, I would propose that the town conduct a design charrette with local architects to formulate a plan for the area along Coleman Boulevard from Simmons Street to Lansing Drive that would be a design district with a maritime theme - a theme that would enhance the Shem Creek area to maintain and showcase the most precious part of what makes Mount Pleasant special.
This area deserves special treatment, because it is different.
I would further suggest that the town evaluate how accommodations taxes will be spent over the coming years, particularly with many new hotels being constructed, so that monies could be set aside to do the things that are needed to allow for parking, to provide for specific needs of the shrimping and fishing fleet and to be able to tell the history of this area that clearly defines the town for most people.
Perhaps during this period, the town could set aside any development proposals until new standards could be written for the design district.
I don't pretend to have all of the answers. Like others, I believe that our talented professionals and elected council can do this, and that our town would be forever blessed with the maintenance of an area that most towns can only dream about.
Old Village Drive
Cheryll Woods-Flowers was mayor of Mount Pleasant from 1992-2000.