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Commentary: Goose Creek citizens have chance to shape city's future

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Gayla McSwain

Gayla McSwain

‘Goose Creek is right in the center of everything.”

That is the conclusion reached by the consultant that the city of Goose Creek hired to help rewrite its comprehensive plan. A comprehensive plan is a framework that outlines the vision for how our city will look and feel for decades to come.

Goose Creek sits in the middle of the Charleston metro area with businesses and housing developments growing toward it from all directions.

Historically, Goose Creek has been a crossroads and a bedroom community. Do we want to remain that way, or do we want to become something different?

To have a say in the matter, I encourage all of our citizens to participate in our comprehensive plan workshops. The workshops are being conducted virtually at www.tinyurl.com/goosecreekcompplan. The first one is available through Saturday, and the next one is scheduled to start Jan. 5.

Our comprehensive plan will address our land use, transportation issues, infrastructure, economic development and housing over the next 10 years. It will include our goals and the strategies needed to reach those goals. It must incorporate our priorities and our values.

It will be used by our city’s leaders to make policy decisions regarding all of those developmental issues. But the only way our city leaders can get all those decisions right is to have input from our citizens.

Goose Creek is the eighth largest municipality in South Carolina. It remains one of the most affordable cities in the Charleston metro area to live, especially in housing prices. Our comprehensive planning consultant estimates that we are a city of 41,000 people right now, but that we will be 52,000 strong by 2025. Currently, 74% of our housing is detached, single-family homes.

Do we want to keep it that way? Or, are we open to allowing more multifamily housing, such as apartments, in an attempt to offer more varied and, theoretically, more affordable housing?

Excluding the Naval Weapons Station, only 3% of the land within our city limits is vacant. Do we want to preserve that 3% until we annex more land for commercial or residential development? Should we focus on revitalizing our existing business sections before we move forward with new development on the vacant property? Should we sell off city-owned green space?

The vast majority of the roads and sidewalks within our city are owned and maintained by the South Carolina Department of Transportation and Berkeley County. How can we make sure DOT and the county intend to create and improve roads within our city to accommodate more housing and commercial projects before we approve those projects?

The attendance lines of schools within our city and county seem to be in flux all the time to accommodate overcrowding. Should our city council and staff coordinate more closely with our county-level counterparts and with our school board and its administrators to determine the impact that any new development will have on our schools?

The Crowfield business park has vacant lots that are available to businesses that service and support companies close to our city, like Boeing and Volvo. Currently, 93% of workers living in Goose Creek commute to work outside the city.

Do we want to keep it that way? Or, do we want to recruit commercial business to Goose Creek to allow more people to work within the city?

Do we want to continue to try to create a “downtown” area in our city? Or, are we satisfied to remain a collection of neighborhoods with little connectivity?

All scenarios have their pluses and minuses, but city leaders need to hear residents’ preferences. Again, I encourage citizens to make their voices heard by participating in a virtual comprehensive plan workshop. Only then will leaders be able to shape our city to reflect its citizens’ vision of our city over the next decades.

Goose Creek City Councilwoman Gayla McSwain is a former Army officer and a former board member of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance and Trident United Way.

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