Moncks Corner: It’s not quite Mayberry anymore. It is, however, all about baseball and apple pie. It’s official slogan says it all — “The Lowcountry’s Hometown.”
With a new comprehensive town plan in place, Moncks Corner is looking to preserve its hometown feel without being overrun by the kind of growth that would strip it of its small-town character.
Yes, it has a Walmart Supercenter and a recreation complex that even Texans would envy, but no Starbucks — yet.
Downtown still has a few vacant parcels on Main Street, though it has been spruced up and revitalized via its Corner Renaissance project, the adoption of a separate downtown master plan in March and its membership in Main Street South Carolina, a project aimed reinvigorating small towns.
Town planner Doug Polen says Moncks Corner is still working to land a “flag” hotel near its 50-acre recreation complex, which boasts four baseball fields, as well as football and soccer fields and an amphitheater. It’s also home to a weekly farmers market and, when completed in 2020, will include basketball and tennis courts, among other amenities. Already, the ball fields are booked for more than 30 tournaments this year.
Work also is under way to redevelop downtown’s Unity Park and make East Main Street more inviting to walkers and bicyclists.
As the seat of Berkeley County, dating to 1728, Moncks Corner now has about 10,000 residents, up more than 30 percent from the 7,885 counted in the 2010 Census.
Since 2010, Moncks Corner and Hanahan grew at a faster rate than Greenville, which ranked among the nation’s five fastest-growing cities with a population of at least 50,000, the Post and Courier’s David Slade reported on Saturday.
With major regional developments on the horizon, such as the Volvo plant taking shape about 15 miles west, the population growth is expected to continue apace, but the town’s leadership has worked hard to retain its small-town feel. Its historic train depot on the tracks dividing downtown, once the social center of the whistle stop, remains the town’s Visitor and Cultural Center.
The town itself has shown steady but slow revenue growth, up 27 percent for the five years 2011-2015.
Still, Moncks Corner trails its neighbors, such as Goose Creek and Summerville, in median household income ($44,828), which was below the regional average of $52,517 and slightly below the state average of $45,033.
The Berkeley County School District and county government are by far the biggest employer in town, followed by Santee Cooper.
Based on 2014 data, 16.7 percent of Moncks Corner residents, or 1,390 individuals, were living below the poverty level.
But numbers don’t tell the whole story. Moncks Corner is a hub for hunting, fishing and water sports; and home to the 195-acre Old Santee Canal Park and historic district. The area is rich in history, ranging from Revolutionary War sites to 18th century plantations and singular attractions such as nearby Mempkin Abbey situated on a Lords Proprietary estate dating to 1681.
While Moncks Corner faces major growth along with the rest of the fast-growing tri-county region, the residents expressed their wishes in the comprehensive town plan’s vision statement:
“In the face of inevitable change, the Town of Moncks Corner will strive to remain a place where people live and work by choice, not by chance. By preserving its history and promoting its livability, recreational opportunities, and focus on the importance of family, the Town will maintain its small town character, values, and quality of life while accommodating the residents, visitors and businesses brought by the region’s growth.”