Say yes to jobs and no to mobs
There has been much discussion in this local newspaper among others regarding the proposed development project for the long defunct Pawleys Plaza in Pawleys Island. Almost all of it has been negative and in opposition. As a resident of Pawleys Island, I am growing concerned that a “mob mentality” is settling in that will oppose and “bully” any sort of developer that dares to come in and invest in our community. With all that is at stake, I think it behooves all of us to put down the pitchforks and torches (and signs and petitions) and think this through with a constructive dialogue. To begin that dialogue, here are some questions that should be asked to the “Don't Box the Neck” crowd:
1. Seven years ago, you vehemently opposed the Lowe’s development on the South Causeway and ran them out of town. Today, that parcel of land remains as a vacant and snake-infested eye-sore where someone occasionally parks their car or boat for sale. How has that helped our community grow? And since you ran Lowe’s off, do you feel any responsibility for the lost opportunity of jobs that surely would have been welcomed in this recession?
2. A Fortune 500 company is reportedly interested in investing a large amount of money in our community that will bring a few hundred well-paying jobs with health and retirement benefits. Do you have another Fortune 500 company up your sleeve that you are courting? Do you have another solution for the 12 to 15% unemployment in the area? The local merchants serve a purpose and have a niche but how many are providing health and retirement benefits? Have you considered that the extra jobs may actually help the local businesses?
3. Pawleys Island is isolated and many of its residents rely on daily and weekly pilgrimages out of the area for necessities whether it is to Target, Walmart, Home Depot, etc. While we always try to patronize the local merchants, some items cannot be found because of limited selection. Both of the “nearby” Walmarts are about a 25-mile round trip. For someone making weekly trips there, that is roughly 1,300 miles a year. Now I ask, is that really close? Who pays for the extra gas? What about all of that extra traffic going up and down U.S. 17 going on those long frequent round trips? And how many of you opposing are in households of just 1 or 2 who are not really big consumers that require larger stores and frequent trips?
4. Pawleys Island's motto is “arrogantly shabby” but we all know that this is overplayed and much of the U.S. 17 corridor is run-down and is in much need for a serious make-over. Where are you with the concerns for the many eye-sores that dot U.S. 17? Where are you with the plans to raise the money that would come from taxes and jobs that could be used for beautification of our community, for parks and bike trails?
5. If it is a Walmart that is being proposed, are we too good for that? Places that are much more upscale than here such as Hilton Head, S.C. and Scottsdale, AZ have said “yes” to Walmart. Why should we say “no”? Can we afford to let this dilapidated ghost town strip mall sit for another 10 years?
6. Are the local merchants always looking out for the residents' convenience and best interest or just their own? We have all heard how [a grocery chain] has kept a strangle hold on Pawleys Island by tying up the lease in Pawleys Plaza. How is this friendly toward the local residents? Are they any better than the retailers wanting to invest millions in our community? If there was a Walmart, personally, we would not patronize the local merchants any less, we would just drive less to go to the big retailers 12 to 15 miles away.
I have no problem with someone coming to protest with a legitimate complaint as long as they come with a viable solution but do they have one? The problem is: Need for revitalization and development that will bring jobs to the Pawleys Island community. Someone has presented a solution to the problem.
The “Don't Box the Neck” crowd has presented nothing but a problem with the solution. Unless they bring a real solution, let us give those who are willing to solve the problem a fair opportunity to present their case. If it is done right, we may all win. The worst thing that could happen is nothing which would mean more stagnation, no new jobs, no new tax revenues for beautification projects and parks and more shabbiness.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The existing Georgetown Residential Area Design Guideline Manual published in 2004 is excellently written and illustrated. This booklet reflects the community's values and is very easy to use. There isn't a thing wrong with the existing Manual except it lacks guidelines for commercial buildings. The problem with the Manual lies with its application by the Architectural Review Board and the City of Georgetown staff.
My overall impression of the proposed Georgetown Historic Buildings District Design Guidelines is that it is schizophrenic without a clear mandate. This tome is 137 pages long not including the appendix! Are the citizens of Georgetown really ready to hire an archeologist to perform underground investigations before you build a pool in your back yard? Are you sure you want to have your addition look like a steel and glass appendage? These proposed guidelines say “will” not “should” or “may”. Beware.
A one-day workshop with the ARB members, citizens, and staff could produce policy statements to illuminate the community's position on hot button topics such as the use of synthetic siding and stucco. Out of this meeting, the group could produce a work book to guide the staff in updated procedures for taking applications for a Certificate of Appropriateness in order to produce consistent policy and guidance for the ARB.
The Architectural Review Board, by its decisions, reflects the opinions of the citizens of Georgetown. Its design guidelines should too.
(Former Preservation Officer for the City of Charleston)
Walmart and seaside town
As Pawleys Island residents and business owners, we believe that the building of another, unnecessary Walmart store in our community will serve only to “hamstring” the one really solid income-producing aspect of our seaside town, namely its ability to generate large amounts of income for all of our local businesses from returning vacationers and from tourism generated by the golf trail.
In our humble opinion, we should go with what works. Pawleys advertises and prides itself on being the “oldest seaside resort in our country.” For the most part, Pawleys Island remains a Mecca for beach-goers, just as it did from its earliest beginnings. History is worth something to the people who reside here. Many moved from the bustling areas of our country to escape the traffic, noise and other city woes brought about by the onset of over-crowding. It is likely that many of our fellow residents and some of our businesses alike truly wish to keep their beach haven as it now stands.
We seriously believe that it would be both unwise and undesirable to introduce, for the mere sake of gaining a more convenient shopping venue and relatively few very low paying local jobs to destroy what we consider to be a real attraction, our “laid-back and quaint beachside community feel.” Convenience, even when offered with lower pricing, is surely not beyond the reach of our residents, in fact ten miles in either direction one can obtain our fill of those products in which Walmart deals.
To risk sacrificing the honor bestowed upon us by National Geographic Traveler’s Magazine which voted Pawleys Island as “one of the top ten places in the world to visit for summer vacations,” would be a travesty if it ended up costing us that priceless accolade. The way Pawleys “feels” is truly an important commodity, an intangible but highly valuable asset indeed. We caution those who favor the coming of Walmart as an beneficial attribute to Pawleys, to kindly rethink their positions lest we lose something quite irreplaceable and most unique, something that other communities would pay dearly to obtain, the aura that is Pawleys Island.
To those detractors, those who believe that progress and jobs are worth the loss of our historic identity, we ask they reconsider the fact that Walmart may be a less than perfect fit within our community and not conducive with Pawleys image. It is good business to protect our valuable image at all costs, hence, we suggest that residents and elected officials forego undertaking risky zoning actions that may forever alter the face of our beloved Island.
“Hope and change” in search of beneficial commercialization and jobs may prove to be faulty logic if it comes at the expense of and destruction of that which we residents value most about the place in which we happily live.
We further believe that our zoning regulations need to be amended, once and for all, to effect the citizen’s will to prevent big business from applying for stores of this magnitude now and in the future.
“Tourism and quiet trumps commercialization and traffic every time.”
Robert and Linda Dimesky
Get off high horses
This letter is in regard to the proposed Walmart in Pawleys Island. It amazes me that the same people who shop in Walmart don't want it here. They say it is okay to have one in Georgetown and Garden City but not in my backyard. Do these same people even care about all those in our area who are less fortunate than themselves such as those who have lost their jobs and have run out of unemployment benefits? Do they care about those who don't have transportation to the other Walmart locations?
These same people didn't have a problem with Fresh Market. Also I didn't see them complaining about the Mini Storage facility that is going to be put on the corner of 17 and Martin Luther King Drive. So why complain about Walmart?
I believe not only will Walmart bring needed jobs to the area, but it will also bring sales tax revenue from the Garden City Walmart back to Georgetown County instead of Horry County. It will also mean lower prices for food, which will help those who live on a fixed income. And as far as saying the jobs don't pay well, most retail jobs are entry level jobs to get people started in the workforce and to give them pride in being able to get a paycheck for a job well done. And for those who say it will cause small businesses to close. I don't think that will happen either as most of these businesses have their own clientele that will always shop in their stores, or are people who don't shop in Walmart at all.
I personally think after seeing the photo in the newspapers that it will be look better than what is there now. Maybe some of the people who don't want it in their backyard should get off their high horse and think about others for a change.
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