MOUNT PLEASANT — Mayor Linda Page said her top goal this year is “for Town Council to develop a unified vision for the community and to work with one another” in achieving it.
Her comment, in an upbeat State of the Town address Tuesday highlighting the town’s goals and achievements, came four days after veteran Councilman Elton Carrier described the council as “gridlocked” since the November election and divided into rival factions.
Council members have recently sparred over the town’s plan for a multi-lane roundabout on Coleman Boulevard and a possible expansion of Shem Creek Park that could involve property acquisition, but Page’s address stressed that the town is hard at work efficiently taking care of the people’s business.
Her address at a Town Council meeting followed a video montage of town projects and initiatives. She ticked off a list of ongoing building and road projects and unveiled a new task force on “attainable housing” that soon will begin meeting and will be chaired by former Councilwoman Thomasena Stokes-Marshall.
“The task force will recommend to Town Council ways in which we can secure attainable housing for our community to promote diversity, prevent gentrification and sustain our town,” Page said.
Fast-growing Mount Pleasant is South Carolina’s fourth-largest city and has some of the highest median home prices in the Lowcountry, along with rent prices that a local apartment developer previously described as “ridiculous.”
Unlike the other largest cities, Mount Pleasant has no housing agency, and the only public housing for people with low income is a small Old Village apartment complex owned by the Charleston Housing Authority.
The mayor urged town residents to get more involved with the town government and “make civic participation a priority, and not just when something happens that you don’t like.” She said taking advantage of her monthly “coffee with the mayor” get-togethers, or the town administrator’s mobile office meetings, are a good way to get started.
“This town is full of intelligent and creative individuals, and we need you to work with us in identifying issues and developing workable solutions,” she said.
The important work of local government that goes on with little attention from the public, such as maintaining infrastructure (“a boring and unappealing word,” Page said), was among the mayor’s talking points. She noted that the town spent $1.2 million on stormwater infrastructure work last year and said the work paid off when a 1,000-year rainfall arrived in October.
“Although we received one of the highest levels of rainfall, we also suffered one of the least amounts of damage,” Page said. “We experienced no loss of life or property — due largely to our investment in stormwater infrastructure projects.”
Infrastructure, growth management and local government revenue are the town’s top legislative priorities, she said.
Page said state lawmakers keep failing to fully fund the local government fund, depriving Mount Pleasant and other communities of revenue, and the state keeps threatening local business license fees, a key revenue source for the town.
“We are reinforcing our efforts at the state level to defend revenue sources that are rightfully yours,” the mayor said.
The coming year will see the town press ahead with major projects, from the ongoing construction of the new Town Hall to another slew of road projects, which include:
Coleman Boulevard drainage and road improvements (the roundabout)
Billy Swails’ Boulevard, final phase (Six Mile Road to Hamlin Road)
Patriots Point re-alignment and Coleman Boulevard intersection improvements
Highway 41/Bessemer Road intersection improvements
The town will also continue working with county and state officials to widen S.C. Highway 41. Page said the federally mandated environmental planning process, which could take up to two years, will begin shortly.
Reach David Slade at 843-937-5552 or twitter.com/DSladeNews.