Georgetown divided over steel mill reopening

Georgetown divided over steel mill reopening
Georgetown Steel Mill (Source: Live 5)

GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The City of Georgetown divided over what to use the old Arcellor Mittal steel mill property for.

Liberty House Group, a steel company out of London, has made a bid and presented a plan. Now, the city is working with the steel company to make the best decisions going forward. Liberty House tells Georgetown council reopening the mill will bring around 275 jobs to the city. Council wants to keep those jobs in Georgetown.

"Georgetown is a working-class neighborhood. We rely on jobs to make a living," United Steelworkers local president James Sanderson said. "It means jobs, it means opportunity and it means making things better for the community as a whole."

"We would hope that whatever benefits flow will flow as local as possible," Georgetown mayor Jack Scoville said.

Not everyone however. is happy with the potential reopening, however.

"Council is concerned with what the best interest is for the overall city," the mayor said.

"I think when reelection comes up, we need to really look at our mayor and see if we can't get someone in who will do a better job," Georgetown resident Cynthia Moore said. Moore said she is unhappy with the mayor's hesitance to reopen the mill.

Attendees of the meeting were angry with the scheduled agenda item for next weeks council meeting to rezone the steel mill property for another use.
Mayor Scoville says, after the meeting with Liberty House today, that agenda item is no longer on the table.

United Steelworkers representatives say the reopening is a win for everyone.

"They are purchasing our plant and they want to make it very clear that they will be operating that plant. We should not be a divided community," Sanderson said. "Everyone should look at the opening of the steel mill as a great asset and opportunity."

Mayor Scoville openly says his long-term preference is re-purposing the land into waterfront parks.

"Now we actually have a company here that's willing to put the money into reopening and that changed everything dramatically," Scoville said. "I'm not against the mill reopening at all." The mayor added that he is excited to work with Liberty House. "They are very environmentally friendly, will be a good neighbor and as long as they live up to that I think everyone will be fairly happy."

Liberty House will not close the deal for another 60-90 days but have already started improvement projects. They company is redoing the north gate of the mill where the "Historic Georgetown" mural sits faded. Residents say it is not the proper way to welcome people into the city.

"Lee Huntsinger, the one who did it originally 16 years ago, is going to be the one to redo it," Sanderson said.

"Repaint the mural, clean up around the site, those are some of the things that they have assured us they intend to do," the mayor said.

"I think what they're doing is not just positive for the steel mill, it's positive for the community," Moore added.

The improvement on the north gate is scheduled to start Monday, May 15.

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