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Video touts Camden's State of the City

Posted: December 9, 2010 5:26 p.m.
Updated: December 10, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Everything you want to know about what’s going on in the city of Camden -- from city hall’s perspective -- has been summed up in an 8-minute, 57-second video. The State of the City was posted Wednesday on the city’s website and YouTube and features what Mayor Jeffrey Graham called a “more conversational” style.

The video includes mostly still photographs and narration by Graham, City Manager Kevin Bronson and other city officials. There is some “live” video of downtown Camden, the current wastewater treatment plant and Town Green construction.

After a short introduction by Graham, Bronson remarks that the Town Green project has become one of the city’s most important ever.

“Three big components (were) making a parking lot, having an area that could be a performance venue and then addressing storm water issues after rain events so we’re not flooding downtown businesses and street ways,” Bronson said over renderings of the finished Town Green and video of contractors working.

The city has previously estimated that when the project is completed, there will actually more be more parking spaces available than when the area was known as the East Back Lot.

Bronson noted in the video that the bulk of the Town Green project is being paid for with hospitality tax funds and supplemented by money from the city’s general fund, special millage for street paving and some utility funds.

“We’re on target to be completed by the end of March,” he said.

Downtown Manager Wade Luther said one of the most important ordinances passed in 2010 was one allowing special event permitting where streets are closed and vendors allowed to operate in the public rights of way.

“The reason that’s important is that it allows us to hold events downtown,” said Luther. “They drive foot traffic through downtown to get exposure for their stores and give them opportunities to sell their merchandise and get heads into their restaurants and people at the tables. Basically, to drive commerce.”

The mayor’s narration picks up again, talking about the county’s lift of the Blue Law restriction on what can be sold in stores on Sundays regardless of the hours they keep and the city’s lifting of Sunday alcohol sale restrictions.

“We think it’ll help our restaurants downtown,” Graham said of the repeal of the liquor Blue Law in Camden. “We’re grateful to the citizens for voting in favor of this because we think it will help the businesses’ bottom lines.”

Camden Police Chief Joseph Floyd next mentions the city’s ban on texting while driving.

“We’ve seen good results. We continue to look for other innovative things to do for our citizens here and council’s been at the forefront of making those efforts,” said Floyd.

The video then introduces the city’s newest official: grant writer Sonia Canzater. Canzater mentions the approximately $3 million in grants the city has already received, noting they have gone toward park and streets improvements and police and fire equipment upgrades.

“As a city, we’re continually looking for any opportunity for grant funding,” Canzater said. “We have several proposals we are looking to apply for regarding public works and grants to improve the (Camden) Archives and Museum.”

Canzater also noted the city has been awarded federal grant funds to assist in a proposal to place Broad Street on a “road diet.”

Finance Director Mel Pearson talks about how the city’s assets have grown despite the economy, helping to place Camden in a good position to borrow funds for the proposed wastewater treatment plant. That conversation leads directly into one by Kyle Smith, the city’s lead wastewater treatment plant operator.

In his discussion, Smith talks not only about how the new plant is being mandated by new S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control water quality standards, but how the new plant will go about meeting those standards.

“The plant we’re going to is going to be an activated smudge plant, 4 million gallons per day,” said Smith. “What will be different about the new plant as far as the disinfection side is that we currently use chlorine gas and in the new plant we’re going to have UV (ultraviolet). It’s a lot safer to the environment.

“The water that we’re discharging into the Wateree River is probably 20 times cleaner than what’s actually there. This new plant, the effluent from it will literally look like drinking water.”

Smith said the city is about three years out from starting up operations and that people enjoying the Wateree River probably won’t even know the plant is there.

“The buildings will be (set) back from the river. You will not see the outfall pipe. It’ll be a real nice design, real modern. We’re looking forward to getting it,” said Smith.

The video ends with a wrap up from Mayor Graham, who said he hopes those viewing the State of the City video will visit Camden.

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