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Let’s build on assets already in place

Posted: February 14, 2012 10:44 a.m.
Updated: February 15, 2012 5:00 a.m.

I like the idea of bike paths throughout downtown Camden. I like the idea of a carriage tour of historic residences. I like the idea of renovating the train depot and reactivating a track to and from Camden to Columbia. I like the idea of upgrading the Woodward Air Field to make Camden a true commuter-friendly town for folks who want to work in the city and yet be surrounded by the equestrian world and country living. 

I agree that the abandoned Camden Middle School is a dangerous precursor of decay on the march. I agree that the Rhame Arena is not so far gone that it can't be retrofitted with a traditional facade and some internal renovations.

But none of this is possible unless our economic committees develop and encourage businesses to relocate in Kershaw County. None of this is possible without a vibrant main street with more restaurants and live/work residences within a walkable downtown. Using the Mather property and CMS as "bungalow parks" would be a perfect infill development for downtown. The project would be clapboard Springdale Hall-style which would appeal to retirees, professionals and single families and maintain the traditional Camden flavor. What a beautiful picture! We need to build on our assets that are already in place.

But our city council suffers from tunnel vision when they see the fix for our town's stagnation as a Town Green and a multi-million-dollar recreational facility. As yet, we do not have the expanded tax base or working population to support this type of expense. Sumter has a YMCA and Lake Carolina has the Jeep YMCA -- both fabulous and they both have the population densities to support those facilities. We could complement our existing county buildings and programs but we do not need to reinvent the wheel.

If the city council thrusts this multi-million-dollar project down our throats, you can be sure taxes will skyrocket to cover dreams, not needs. 

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