Residents debate port terminal expansion

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - For Charles Brave, and many of his coworkers, working on ports is a way of life.

Brave is a second generation longshoreman, who took his first port job when he was 14. He rallied on George Street Monday night in support of the redevelopment of Union Pier Terminal in downtown Charleston.

Brave says expanding the port, and the cruise industry, won't just be great for people who work on the ports -- It will revitalize the local economy.

"The growth here would be astronomical," Brave said. "We'd have good jobs and as an international longshoreman, we'd be able to put more money into the economy."

But not everyone agrees.

Jackie Fleet has lived downtown for 18 years and said traffic is already bad enough on days the cruise ships are in town, and she knows it won't get better with a bigger cruise industry.

"I tried to park my car on Saturday and it took three quarters of an hour to get to the farmers market," Fleet said.

Fleet said she is worried all that traffic will frustrate residents and cause them to stop using downtown businesses.

"The city just grinds to a halt, and that's not really good for businesses in the long run," Fleet said.

Hundreds of people, both for and against the expansion, packed the Physicians Auditorium on the College of Charleston's campus for an informative community meeting put on by the Historic Charleston Foundation.

Mayor Joe Riley spoke, as well as officials with the South Carolina State Ports Authority and some urban developers.

Many residents say they're not choosing a side. They just want to get a better idea of this big project.

They say they are all for an expanded port and cruise industry as long as it doesn't jeopardize the culture, history or architecture of the city in any way.

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