Berkeley mayors talk growth, transportation solutions

Summerville Mayor Bill Collins

A month after Berkeley County landed a Volvo manufacturing plant that could eventually employ 4,000 people, the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce held its first mayors’ conference Monday.

Mayors Roy Pipkin (Jamestown), Bill Collins (Summerville), Michael Heitzler (Goose Creek) and Michael Lockliear (Moncks Corner) each gave an update on their municipality’s growth.

“The timing of this is spectacular, with all that’s going on in South Carolina,” said Chamber President Giff Daughtridge, vice president and general manager of Nucor Steel.

Collins talked about road projects including the final phase of the Berlin G. Myers Parkway, which he hopes will begin construction in 2016, and a connector from the planned Sheep Island interchange at mile marker 197 on Interstate 26 that will allow drivers to get to the Knightsville area without going through downtown Summerville.

“Things are really moving in Summerville,” Collins said. “We are growing enormously day by day.”

He said there are also plans for several new shopping centers and other businesses.

“The way I try to run Summerville is off the backs of businesses,” he said. “I’d rather do that than have to raise taxes on homeowners.”

Heitzler said Goose Creek’s leaders are proactive about planning for the future.

“For the past 35 years or so we have had a systematically drawn out and conceived strategic plan that projects us 20 years into the future,” he said. “They are proactive that way.”

The plan has helped city leaders plan for expected growth in the Carnes Crossroads area, he said.

Lockliear said his priority is revitalizing Moncks Corner’s downtown area and completing the recreation complex that is under construction.

When an audience member noted that all the development is bringing more traffic and asked about plans for mass transit or light rail, Pipkin offered a different perspective: “Move to Jamestown,” he said of his town, which has a population of 100.

“We are aware that we’ve got to do something in the way of mass transportation,” Collins said.

He said additional buses routes and rapid bus transportation routes are more likely than a costly light-rail system. “We don’t have that kind of money (to build light rail), but if we can do something with buses, that will be a beginning. We’ve got to find ways to work as a region to make these things happen and the big issue is you’ve got to find ways to pay for them. Everybody I know wants more and more and more service but they want to pay less and less and less for it. We’ve got to figure it out.”

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.