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Column: City making great progress

Posted: July 12, 2018 3:04 p.m.
Updated: July 13, 2018 1:00 a.m.

I have a friend who lives in New Hampshire. She says they have two seasons, “winter and road construction.” She is always interested in what is happening in Camden, which prompted me to be thinking about all the great things that are progressing in our area.  It hardly seems like two years ago, but it has been, when the 2016 election cycle primary topics were determined.

I certainly remember the topics you brought to my attention, and I’m very proud of the city of Camden staff and contractors who are working so hard on your topics. Which means I have lots to share.

You can drive around and progress is very visible. Walnut Street is being transformed with new water/services, ADA-compliant sidewalks with detectable warning strips, asphalt paving, underground electric services, and decorative lights. There is a sizable grant associated with the undergrounding work.

Over on Campbell Street, from York to Greene streets, undergrounding electric lines with new decorative lights should be complete by the end of the year. At the intersection of DeKalb and Campbell streets, there will be new traffic structures.
Mill Street is also experiencing the undergrounding of electric services and new decorative street lighting.

There is another grant in play for the Kirkwood neighborhood. Plans for rehabilitating the water and sewer service, placing electrical service underground, adding decorative street lights and paving are almost ready to be released for bid.

In addition to undergrounding electrical work, water and sewer work, and paving, there are several other infrastructure projects in motion. Phase 2 of the Scott Park/Sweet Gum trails is a collaborative project between the city of Camden and Eat Smart/Move More. The existing 1-mile dirt trail inside Scott Park will become an 8-foot wide asphalt surfaced trail.  This trail connects to the Sweet Gum Trail which runs from Scott Park to Woodward Park. Phase 1 was completed in November 2017. I bet you remember that great article in the Chronicle-Independent. Oh yes, in addition to City and Eat Smart/Move More, there is a grant to defray costs.

Also, there is no possible way that you have missed the truck route progress.

You also told us you’d like for the Wateree Riverfront Environmental Park to include a kayak/canoe launching ramp, conservation areas for bird watching opportunities, recreational walking, biking and water trails, environmental education opportunities for students and historical recognitions. So the old 16-acre wastewater lagoon on a 24-acre site, is the perfect location. We are expecting Phase 1 to begin in November. And, you guessed it, there is grant money involved in the project, too.

Does the next topic belong in infrastructure or tourism? Both: the new tennis and pickle ball courts are bringing tourists to Camden.  They are spending money -- staying for the sports and for the whole Camden experience. Keep your eyes on the busy schedule for the complex; you will be seeing lots of notices for tennis tournaments and for pickle ball events (the fastest growing adult sport in the U.S.A.).

There are many ways to view the economic barometer. Since Fiscal Year  (FY) 2011, our hospitality tax revenue has increased 32 percent and the new 70-room Hampton Inn should be opening in January 2019. Today, we have 200-plus licensed, insured, inspected hotel, motel, bed and breakfast rooms that contribute to increased hospitality and accommodation taxes. Our requirements definitely exceed our current inventory. Our South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism statistics for Camden/Kershaw County show 318,000 visitors in FY 2017 (FY 2018 numbers are not yet available). But, based upon current trends, we will see a nearly 4 percent increase in tourism. We love tourists and their spending power.

As you have read, right here in this paper, the city of Camden is working with Retail Coach to assess and boost economic development. The Camden dashboard is a great resource for additional information.

There can’t possibly be anyone reading this article who hasn’t heard that Kershaw County, including Camden, is a 2018 All-America City. Congratulations to all!

I am excited about all that is going on in Camden. City council members have their ears open and are ready to hear from you. Please join us for our regularly scheduled council meetings or contact us if you have questions or suggestions. It is our pleasure to serve you and to ensure your election year topics become realities.

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