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Boogertown not to blame

Posted: June 5, 2012 9:41 a.m.
Updated: June 6, 2012 5:00 a.m.

I was dismayed to see an unfair and inaccurate characterization of our old historic neighborhood of Boogertown on the front page of the Friday, June 1st issue of the C-I. The caption that appeared under the "Brick by Brick: The Walls Tumbled Down" photo, which depicted the demolition of the band room at the old Camden Middle School (and old Camden High School), falsely portrayed our neighborhood's efforts to propose an alternative to the proposal to extend Jordan Street to Laurens as having been responsible for the property being "vacant for years and subject to vandalism." The implication was that the residents of Boogertown cluelessly opposed developing the property, thereby fouling our own nest by leaving a crumbling eyesore in our midst, ripe for vandals.

This is untrue. The neighborhood supported development of the old school property, but proposed an alternate plan that would have avoided channeling more traffic into a neighborhood with narrow streets, few usable sidewalks, and an overabundance of high-speed through traffic as it was. Many hours of work went into an alternate plan that would have permitted development but would have channeled traffic onto Lyttleton Street, which is much wider, with sidewalks, and better able to support the traffic without safety concerns. The alternate plan was rejected by Planning & Zoning and ignored by City Council. The development plan moved forward in both cases (there were actually two development plans) until the developer, again in both cases, withdrew... NOT because of opposition to the extension of Jordan Street to Laurens; that issue was dead. No, in both instances the developer determined that the project was not financially viable in a down market. In at least one of the two cases the developer specifically stated that their withdrawal was unrelated to the issue of Jordan Street.

Since all of the residents of Boogertown were opposed to the extension of Jordan Street, the C-I has managed to unfairly malign an entire neighborhood.

But the real tragedy here is the manner in which this incident inflames wounds that already exist in our community by reinforcing a false dichotomy between development and preservation. Fortunately, there is recently great optimism in our community that we will be able to put these old divisions to rest and establish new, more harmonious relationships based upon mutual respect, genuine dialogue, and collaboration. We can preserve the integrity of our town and its neighborhoods AND promote responsible progress as well. Change is in the air. As John Lennon said, "War is over, if you want it."

I challenge our local media to foster and support that new spirit of respect and cooperation with coverage of neighborhood concerns that accurately reflects the genuine caring for community, and for each other, that we hope to achieve as we move ahead into what I have every confidence will be a brighter future for Camden and Kershaw County.

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