West Ashley Master Plan Needs Input
April 13, 2017
By John Steinberger | Contributing Writer
The West Ashley Revitalization Commission (WARC) was formed by Charleston City Council ordinance in Sept. 2016. City Councilman Peter Shahid was tapped by Mayor John Tecklenburg to chair the 19-member commission. Counsulting firm Dover Kohl of Coral Gables, Fla. was selected to guide the planning process. The eventual planning product will be the West Ashley Master Plan, which will be approved and implemented by City Council.
The next WARC meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Apr. 12 at The School House, a newly renovated office complex at 720 Magnolia Rd. near the Post Office. The property, managed by Avison Young real estate, has offices spaces available for rent, starting at $500 per month. It is adjacent to the popular 3.7 acre Magnolia Park urban garden, where residents can lease 4 x 8 planter boxes and use a community tool shed and water spigots to tend a garden plot. The WARC meeting will include a public comment period and conclude with a tour of The School House.
The ordinance authorizing the WARC included the establishment of 10 subcommittees in the areas of communications, design, economic development, housing, parks and recreation, public works, senior citizens’ issues, environmental concerns, technology and transportation. In the seven months that have followed, only the communications subcommittee has been established.
Four community input workshops have been set to help develop the West Ashley Master Plan from Monday, Apr. 24 to Saturday, May 6. The workshops (except for May 6) will take place from 6-9 p.m. and follow a brainstorming drop-in format with representatives from consulting firm Dover Kohl recording citizen comments in such areas as housing, transportation, shopping centers, economic development, beautification recreation and drainage.
The workshops include two West Ashley zones east of Interstate 526 and two west of I-526. Residents and business owners may attend any or all of the workshops. The workshops are scheduled for Monday, Apr. 24 at John Wesley Methodist Church (626 Savannah Hwy), Tuesday, Apr. 25 at West Ashley Middle School cafeteria (1776 William Kennerty Dr.), Saturday, May 6 from 9 am to noon at Bees Landing Recreation Center (1580 Ashley Gardens Blvd.) and Sat., May 6 from 2-5 pm at West Ashley High School cafeteria (4060 Wildcat Blvd.).
The next step in the process is the Open Planning Studio sessions from Monday, May 8 to Saturday, May 13, which will be held at the Center Court area of Citadel Mall near JC Penney. It will show design drawings generated from the four community input workshops and will solicit citizen input on the designs. The May 13 session will incorporate feedback compiled during the Mon. – Fri. sessions. Find the complete schedule at www.PlanWestAshley.com
The workshops and planning studio sessions will be promoted through City of Charleston e-mail data bases, Facebook pages, press releases, flyers, the West Ashley Farmers Market (which resumes Wed., Apr. 19 from 3-7 pm and subsequent Wednesdays at Ackerman Park, 55 Sycamore Ave.), radio public service announcements and outreach efforts to teens, the elderly and minority groups. You can share the events on http://www.Facebook.com/CityCharleston
Strong citizen participation is essential to making this process effective. For those of you who grumble about West Ashley being neglected or changing in ways you do not approve, now is your time to make your voices heard. The community input workshops and open planning studio sessions are all drop-in events. You can show up and present written or verbal suggestions to the facilitators and go on your way. It is also an opportunity to hear concerns from other residents, businesses and civic groups in our community.
For WARC to be a true citizen-driven process, I think it is important to form more of the subcommittees called for in the original ordinance. Of particular concern to me is public works. A brief thunderstorm recently caused drains to back up all over West Ashley. Many of the storm drains, drainage pipes and ditches are clogged with debris. It will take a coordinated effort to develop a plan to make our drainage system functional.
John Steinberger is the editor-in-chief of LowcountrySource.com. To contact him, email John@LowcountrySource.com.