Bamberg Downtown Revitalization

“Our hands are kind of tied,” noted Bamberg Mayor Alton McCollum in summarizing the status of the on again- off again Bamberg Downtown Revitalization Plan. Mayor McCollum stated in his opening comments on the topic at Bamberg City Council’s November 8 meeting Monday night that the city was waiting a plan from Bamberg County Economic Development Agent with Clemson University Harry Chrissy, but had not received one yet and he was hearing both pros and cons about the make-over of downtown Bamberg.

“Some people downtown are for re-doing the downtown and some people are opposed,” the Mayor said, adding that some people are saying “you’re just getting the downtown looking good and now you want to take the fence down.”

Again the question of how many parking spaces would be created if the remodeling was to take place downtown. Bamberg City Clerk/Treasurer Bruce Watson noted that Harry Chrissy believes that 36-42 parking spaces can be created, while the Department of Transportation (DOT) says that only 14-16 parking spaces at the most could be created after the proposed renovations.

But again the issues of a plan and money to implement the plan were front and center. “The highway department doesn’t want to move forward until they see a plan drawn out,” Watson said. “But you have to have enough money to cover what you want to do on the plan.”

City officials are hoping they can draw down some of the $1 million left over from the first renovation project, from the Lower Savannah Council of Governments in the amount of ($80,000 - $200,000) to get as much of the project done as possible.

Almost to a person members of Bamberg City Council agreed that the city needed Bamberg’s representative to LSCOG, Chris Wilson to approach the transportation committee on which he serves with a plan and a request for funds to get the downtown project started.

“We need to get all of these people in the same room,” Bamberg Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Foster said. Councilmember Bo Griffin echoed Fosters sentiments in saying, “The principles need to get together.”

Also during the meeting:

• In an update on the FEMA application for the staging area and EOC at the civic center, Mayor McCollum said the city is in-line to receive $1 million to retro-fit the facility but that money would require a $250,000 match. The Mayor said Rep. Bakari Sellers has written a letter requesting matching funds and the LSCOG was contacted about possible left over Community Development Block Grant funds.

Bamberg County Emergency Preparedness Director Sharon Hammond, whose agency it was noted in earlier discussions was in need of more space and was looking at a possible presence in the civic center said: “We’re doing what we need to do for the application. We’re trying to find creative ways of obtaining the money for the matching funds.”

• Council members were informed that a Veterans Day Program will be held again this year on Thursday November 11, at 11:00 a.m. in the Bamberg Civic Center.

• Council members were informed that Paul Sandifer, longtime director of the Bamberg Christmas Parade will be this year’s Grand Marshal. The parade will be held on December 4th.

• Council members approved the following requests: Shalom Zone Mission Cottage Inc. $200; Bamberg Christmas Parade Committee $100 and 2010 Wild Game Supper $200.

• Council members approved the appointment of Council member Janeth Walker to chair the employees Christmas dinner this year.