Immediate goals will keep everyone busy this year
On March 3, the Hardeeville City Council approved a list of 44 goals including immediate (high priority), short-term (2-5 years), and long-term goals. Each objective has been assigned the measurable actions needed to achieve it and a team leader will be responsible for overseeing progress.
Each item on this list is important to the board, but there is not enough staff time and funding to accomplish it all in a year. Here I’ll try to highlight some of the high priority items and what you can expect to see in the coming months.
As I’ve mentioned in recent columns, traffic is a growing concern. Here’s what to expect. We will increase our police force, hopefully by 10%. The goal will be to calm traffic on Argent Boulevard, John Smith Road (to protect the Royal Live Oaks Recreation Center and School) and US 278. We expect citations to increase by 10%, but more importantly still, we expect the rest of the traffic to respect the limits when they see these active patrols. We will be pushing the DOT to install the light at Silver/Short Cut Road by the end of the year.
Another high priority item is a regional traffic analysis. There are millions of square feet of warehouse space that will change the landscape of US 17 in the south end of the city and county over the next 10 years. Exit 3 and I-95 widening will begin. The state is actively marketing a major manufacturer in this corridor.
All of these factors and the increase in housing developments in the city will affect traffic volumes and patterns throughout the region and put pressure on interior roads that were not designed or built for what is to come. We are responsible for studying future projects, analyzing data and planning our future road needs. And we have to do it now, before the mushroom problem.
Communication is another area the board wants to focus on. Hardeeville is the fastest growing municipality in South Carolina by percentage (up 153% since the last census) and plans to add 1,000 single-family homes in 2022. That means more staff, new employees and many moving parts. Council recognizes the value of increasing lines of communication with our citizens, staff and Jasper County to ensure everyone understands the goals, shares the dreams and works together for the common good of the people we serve. .
We will hold joint city council and county meetings and ask the two administrations to co-sponsor mutually beneficial projects. The board will meet with department heads in a casual setting to share thoughts and challenges. We want to improve the city’s television services this year and invest in additional communications resources, including things like visual displays and digital media projectors.
Communication is also accomplished by bringing our diverse community together with planned activities. We will complete the design of a new Veterans Memorial Park by the fall of this year and finalize a construction schedule. We want to bring back the parades and we will set up a committee to start planning. We will plan new events and festivals and develop cycle and pedestrian routes in the city.
The city will continue its reasonable purchases of land. Several years ago the council passed an unrestricted fund with proceeds from the sale of land in the new Hardeeville Business Park. The objective of this fund is to capitalize on strategically located plots when they become available for sale.
The city recently purchased two parcels totaling four acres. Both have frontage along Whyte Hardee Boulevard and the objective is to initiate public/private projects that will enhance the revitalization of this important commercial corridor. Another key part of this goal is the extension of natural gas lines, and city officials will continue to work with Dominion to achieve this.
More city services means more city staff, and we’ll be adding more this budget season. This means that we will need more room for our new employees. We will decide on a permanent location for our media department, an essential space as we strive to improve communications. We will decide whether to expand the town hall or build an annex, and we will plan a police sub-station. Each of these facilities will require design and analysis of financing options, and all of that planning will begin this year.
Sure, there are longer-term goals, but those immediate needs will keep everyone busy this year. As legendary coach Knute Rockne said, “The secret to victory is working more as a team, less as individuals.” Only a team can achieve such lofty goals and I’m proud to be able to brag that Hardeeville has some great players on our team.
Harry Williams is Mayor of Hardeeville.