North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey's rail plan has an obvious benefit for the Park Circle area -- the closure of a rail line that currently bisects it.
But for many residents in the neighborhoods farther south, the pros and cons of the plan are less clear.
That's why Chicora-Cherokee Neighborhood President A.J. Davis invited Summey to speak to the neighborhood's monthly meeting Monday.
"The mayor has definitely taken a stance that he's adamant about the rail not going north. The question is, though, what about it coming south?" Davis asked. "And for the residents, it's a question of what else may be coming along with that."
Despite such skepticism, Summey received a warm welcome and just a few calm questions from about two dozen residents who showed up.
And if his half-hour presentation didn't win them all over, it opened a dialogue expected to continue for some time as the city seeks the financing -- which could approach the $100 million neighborhood -- and the political backing to make it a reality.
City Councilman Michael Brown, who recently voted against seeking a $3 million federal Department of Transportation planning grant for the rail proposal, acknowledged it has some good points, "but there's a lot still to be answered. Our neighborhoods to the south definitely need the same kind of dialogue."
Summey acknowledged the plan would have pluses and minuses but said the pluses are far greater. He spent less time talking about how the minuses could be handled than he did bashing state government, Dorchester County and Norfolk Southern, mostly for not talking to the city.
Summey developed the plan in concert with CSX Corp., but Norfolk Southern Corp. has criticized the plan for not providing it with equal access.
Norfolk Southern said the plan could put the state at risk of losing significant port business -- including the company's BMW traffic.
Summey said Norfolk Southern stands to win if no rail yard is developed in the Lowcountry because it ships a larger percentage of containers from Charleston's port competitors in Savannah and Norfolk, Va.
Last week, Summey met with state Department of Commerce officials as well as state Sens. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, and Chip Campsen, R-Isle of Palms.
He later described the meeting as a cordial one but was more blunt about his frustration Monday, saying it appears that the state is backing off its end of the bargain struck eight years ago when the proposed State Ports Authority container terminal was moved from Daniel Island to the former Charleston Naval Base.
"At the end of the day, this is a fight about big brother beating up little brother," Summey said. "We're not going to tolerate that. We're not going to stand for that."
Summey said it might be necessary to sue the state in federal court. "I'm not sure we'd get a fair hearing in the state of South Carolina's courts," he added.
Summey also blasted Dorchester County Council for writing to U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn -- who Summey hopes will be able to find funding for his rail plan -- to oppose it.
"They never invited us to get our side of the story, which angers me greatly," he said, adding that earlier in the day, three Dorchester County representatives cast the sole opposing votes when the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments voted overwhelmingly to endorse the rail plan.
Residents asked about which rail lines would remain open for emergency use -- and how that would be defined -- as well as about noise and truck traffic impacts.
Councilman Kurt Taylor thanked Summey for his hard work and praised the plan on the balance, even though it will send more train traffic near his home.
"By far the benefits outweigh the detriments to all the neighborhoods it touches," Taylor said.
Davis wasn't as convinced, but he said Summey's remarks were a good start.
"It's a matter of opening communication between the mayor and the southern end of the city," he said. "Historically, in the southern end of the city, many of the residents and neighborhoods feel like they're the dumping ground for anything that the powers that be don't want in their neighborhood."