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Downtown revitalization may be scaled back Print E-mail

A proposed renovation project to plant trees, remove fencing and replace parking in downtown Bamberg is at a standstill until city of Bamberg officials can show South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) officials that there are funds to get the project done. And, even then, the scope of the project will have to be scaled back from what was originally planned.

City of Bamberg Clerk/Treasurer Bruce Watson and Mayor Alton McCollum told council members at their September 13, monthly meeting that they recently met with (SCDOT) officials concerning the downtown Bamberg revitalization project and they (SCDOT) wanted to make sure that the city had some money in place before “drawing anything out” for downtown Bamberg.

“They wanted to make sure there was money before the highway department got involved,” Watson said.

It was suggested at the meeting with the state officials that a request be made to the Lower Savannah Council of Governments (LSCOG) to release some of the $1 million dollars left over from the 301- widening project to be used for the downtown revitalization project.

Watson said that he contacted Harry Crissy, Economic Development Agent with Clemson, who later contacted the LSCOG and was informed that “no money will be released” because the (LSCOG’s) transportation committee has already decided how the money will be spent.

Watson said that Crissy went back and looked at the project and figured out that it would cost approximately $80,000 to have trees planted; fencing removed and replace the parking on Main Street. He said that Crissy suggested requesting that between $150,000 and $200,000 be earmarked to get the project done.

Mayor Alton McCollum said that he contacted Bamberg County Councilman Chris Wilson, who serves on the LSCOG Transportation Committee and asked that Wilson contact Jennifer Tinsley, Director of Planning and Information Technology at the LSCOG to get some money released for the project.

It was also noted in discussion that the original plan for downtown to have parking spaces all up and down Main Street would not be possible because that would leave “blind spots” because the shifting of the intersection had to have turning lanes for trucks on Highway 78 and Elm Street which was a requirement for government funding.

“That’s not going to actually happen,” Watson said of the original plan to have parking from one end of Main Street to the other end.

Instead of the 40-50 parking spaces anticipated there may only be 12-14 if money is released. Watson ended by saying that if the Tri-County Alliance would not release funds and the LSCOG won’t release money, the only other option would be is to go back to the SCDOT or seek federal funding for another “full fledged” highway revitalization plan to do “stuff we’ve already done. “They’re going to frown on us.”

“So that’s where we stand,” Watson said in requesting that citizens speak with County Councilman Chris Wilson in hope of getting the LSCOG to release funds to get the downtown project started.

Also during the meeting:

• Council members gave their approval to a request from the Bamberg Church of God on Calhoun Street to hold a two-day Revival on the Railroad Berm in front of Piggly Wiggly

• Council members approved a request from the Bamberg Youth Football League for $1,000.

• Council members approved second reading of Ordinance 10-5 known as the Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance for the City of Bamberg.

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