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Commentary: The town of James Island is far from a 'paper town'

Garrett Milliken

James Island Mayor Pro Tempore Garrett Milliken. Provided

In his Feb. 12 column, Brian Hicks discouraged the incorporation of Johns Island and referred to the town of James Island as a “paper town.”

This is nothing new from Brian Hicks. Incorporated for a final time in 2012, the town of James Island is far from a paper town.

In my tenure as a council member since 2014, I have witnessed the implementation of an annual budget (currently upwards of $4 million) that has provided infrastructure upgrades, major projects and community support that benefit residents of the entire island.

Some of these initiatives include the following:

• Sidewalks in Harbor Woods and on Camp Road, Quail Drive, Seaside Lane and Dill’s Bluff Road ensure the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

• Greenbelt-funded park projects include the popular Pinckney Park on Fort Johnson Road and the future Brantley Park on Folly Road. These park projects have been a welcome addition to the town’s Dock Street Park in Bayfront. A James Island history trail is in the works.

• Traffic calming projects have been completed in several neighborhoods to slow dangerous cut-through traffic.

• Drainage and flooding issues are being addressed, including 30 drainage basins that have been identified in an engineering study initiated by the town. Drainage improvements have been completed or are in progress in Quail Run, Lighthouse Point and Honey Hill.

• The town is leading in the implementation of the Rethink Folly Road Plan. Mayor Bill Woolsey chairs a committee of stakeholders with a focus on making Folly Road more attractive and safer for pedestrians and cyclists. This plan includes trees and green space in natural buffers. The town funded the construction of the first bus shelter at Folly and Camp roads.

• We have passed a plastics reduction ordinance and a resolution to oppose offshore drilling and seismic testing with the support of local conservation groups.

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• The town is leasing the former Camp Road county library branch for use as a vital community center.

• Many projects have been completed or are planned to care for grand trees along our island’s roads and scenic byways, including planting trees to replenish our urban canopy.

• A town of James Island Market with outdoor movies, music and wares from local merchants is enjoyed by all.

• Annual town community events include the Tree Lighting, Egg Roll, “Lights On” with our island’s safety providers, JI Arts Silent Art Auction and SC Arbor Day. James Island Pride hosts community cleanups and welcomes all islanders to help clear our roads of litter and debris.

• The town assists local organizations, including James Island Outreach, JI Exchange Club and JI Arts. We support island recreation programs for youth, along with helping to fund sports and fine arts programs at James Island Charter High School. Our Repair Care and Helping Hands programs help needy residents with home repairs and yard maintenance.

• We have made public safety a priority through funding the Island Sheriff’s Patrol via the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office.

• Our award-winning Town Hall provides meeting rooms and a 135-person capacity venue for public use.

As far as incorporation on our neighboring Johns Island goes, let us know what we can do to help. The town of James Island is not a paper town. Far from it.

Garrett Milliken is mayor pro tempore of James Island.

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