Mt. Pleasant adding new path to cross Shem Creek
. - Mt. Pleasant leaders are moving forward with a plan to keep locals safer when crossing Shem Creek.
During a special council meeting Thursday, town leaders unanimously voted to put $2 million toward Phase 3 of Shem Creek Park project, which includes a new pedestrian path to be built alongside the existing bridge.
According to Council member Paul Gawrych, who advocated for the plan, the new walkway makes Shem Creek one step closer to being completely walkable.
"Right now, if you're on either side you have to climb up a hill from the docks," Gawrych said, "and then you're in a five ft. wide area with traffic moving by and nothing separating you."
Council unanimously approved $2 million to be allocated from the town's TIF (tax increment financing) funding. The TIF fund is part of a subsidy plan where incremental tax revenues from the tax rates of designated town districts are used for redevelopment, infrastructure and community improvement projects. Council had to prioritize projects for the TIF's $6 million balance before it expires June 30, 2017.
Given council's funding approval, town planners will move forward on design plans for the bridge path; Gawrych envisions a detached path at the same elevation as the current bridge, that ties in to Phase 2 of the Shem Creek expansion project.
"Envision sitting at Reds or Tavern and Table and seeing a friend on water's edge," Gawrych. Said. "You can be on the other side in five minutes."
Some locals said the bridge not only promotes safety, it also benefits local creek side businesses.
"It's absolutely critical, not only to the vitality of the restaurants that are down here but also for expansion for the park," Matt Johnson, of Isle of Palms, said. "It's obviously a popular area here and traffic is a madhouse during the day so anything to improve pedestrian safety, especially for bikers and runners, is an improvement for Mount Pleasant."
Council also decided to allocate $600,000 towards the design of Memorial Waterfront Park's Phase 2 additional improvements, which includes a restaurant on an already approved dock extension. Council voted to reserve $2 million towards the balance of existing TIF projects and study whether further funds can be used toward purchasing property in TIF districts.
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