At Tuesday’s ONCNC meeting we will hear from City Councilman Taylor about the rail issue and how it will impact the Park Circle area. In the meantime, please contact your representatives and senators (contact info pasted below) to have your voice heard.
Below is a brief summary from C. Ryan Johnson, Office of the Mayor. For more on the rail issue check out this quickly organized Facebook group.
Info. on state reps/senators and contact info.
(email excerpt from C. Ryan Johnson, Office of the Mayor)
To date, the Department of Commerce, South Carolina Public Railways, and Senator Hugh Leatherman have pushed through, behind closed doors, a plan to place a rail yard on the northern end of the former navy base. The property to be used for this yard was donated by the City of North Charleston to the Clemson University Restoration Institute to facilitate their wind turbine research. It has now been condemned. The State, through South Carolina Public Railways, has exercised eminent domain to obtain the property. This rail yard would allow trains to enter and exit the north end of the former Navy Base and create a virtual railroad roundabout of the Greater Park Circle community. Traffic congestion, road blockages, and train noise will drastically increase. Apart from increased heavy rail traffic, trucks carrying cargo containers from other port terminals (Columbus Street, Wando, North Charleston) would traverse city streets to access this rail yard.
This plan is in direct violation of the 2002 State Legislature mandated Memorandum of Understanding between the city of North Charleston and the State Ports Authority (an instrumentality of the State of South Carolina), in which it was agreed upon that no new or additional rail would exit from the north end of the base. Relying upon this agreement, homeowners, businesses, industry, and the city have made significant investments to improve the Greater Park Circle community, the East Montague Business District, and the former Navy Base. (The former Navy Base currently is home to as many private jobs as were present at its closure, however most are well above the area’s average median income level.)
The City of North Charleston will fight this ill-conceived plan in every way possible, including in a public legal battle. A legal team that includes city attorneys and lawyers known for being the best in their field of expertise have been assembled. In the interest of the North Charleston community and its residents, we are confident that our efforts will be successful. However, your help is needed.
If you wish to express your opinion regarding the proposed rail yard on the north end of the former navy base, please call and/or email the following legislators and state officials. If you have questions about the plan, please do not hesitate to call me in the Mayor’s Office.
Senator Hugh Leatherman
Senator Leatherman (of Florence) is spearheading the efforts from the Legislature to push through the rail yard on the former Navy Base that would allow northern access and heavy rail traffic throughout the Park Circle area.
Outgoing Secretary of Commerce
Secretary’s email: email@example.com
Bobby Hitt is the incoming secretary under Nikki Haley’s administration
Joe Taylor and Senator Leatherman, neither of which represent or live in North Charleston, have been the two leading the charge for northern rail access to the former Navy Base.
Governor-Elect Nikki Haley
Her press secretary: firstname.lastname@example.org
Governor-Elect Haley has not opposed the proposed rail yard.
President Pro Tempore of the South Carolina Senate
Senator Glenn McConnell
Senator McConnell is the President Pro Tempore of the State Senate represents a portion of North Charleston.
Senator Larry Grooms
Senator Grooms represents Bonneau, SC, but is the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and the port oversight commission. His Committee will be holding a public hearing on the Commerce Department’s rail plan.
South Carolina Public Railways, President & CEO
Jeff McWhorter leads the public state agency that will own, operate, and manage the proposed rail yard. For years, McWhorter has pushed for a rail solution that would allow his agency to maintain control.
Congressman James Clyburn
Legislative Director: email@example.com
Policy Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your United States Congressman who represents Oak Terrace Preserve and the former Navy Base.
Senator Chip Campsen
Your State Senator who is opposed to the proposed rail yard and is supportive of the city of North Charleston.
Representative Seth Whipper
Your State Representative
Thank you for your help in fighting to preserve the quality of life of the resident of North Charleston.
C. Ryan Johnson
Office of the Mayor
City of North Charleston