Here is an article posted in the Charleston Regional Business Journal from the ONC Neighborhood Council meeting last night.
Park Circle residents turn out for rail meeting
By Daniel Brock
Published Jan. 12, 2011
Residents of a North Charleston neighborhood are mobilizing in their fight against the state’s rail plan.
More than 120 community members attended the Olde North Charleston Neighborhood Council’s monthly meeting Tuesday night, a gathering that usually attracts a crowd of fewer than 10.
Worried faces filled the room on East Montague Avenue as citizens voiced their concerns over the S.C. Commerce Department’s rail plan, which city officials say likely will have a dramatic effect on quality of life in the area.
The plan calls for construction of an intermodal rail yard on 71 acres near the Clemson University Restoration Institute’s wind turbine test facility at the former North Charleston Navy base. The rail yard would provide near-dock access to the S.C. State Ports Authority terminal under construction at the base’s southern end. The region’s two Class I railroads, CSX Corp. and Norfolk Southern Corp., would use the yard.
North Charleston officials warn that the state’s plan would triple train traffic in the Park Circle area while greatly expanding the trains’ size — to almost two miles long in some cases. Residents questioned how the plan would affect emergency services, traffic patterns and property values.
City officials contend the Commerce proposal goes against a 2002 agreement with the SPA prohibiting that agency from using track that runs out the base’s north end and past areas North Charleston has spent millions to redevelop in the past decade.
Norfolk Southern trains would access the Commerce facility via tracks that run next to Park Circle, and CSX would arrive at the yard from the south.
“We’re going to spend a lot of money” on a legal fight against the plan, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey told the crowd.
Summey said that the city has spent $15 million on its Waterfront Park, $2.1 million on another park on the south end of town and $3 million on redevelopment of the East Montague area, based on the belief that heavy trains would not rumble through the area.
He added that a renaissance in the area that includes extensive business and residential growth would have never happened had people thought they would one day have a rail yard as a neighbor.
Asked who had moved to Park Circle during the past eight years, nearly everyone in attendance raised a hand.
“We’re in for a fight folks, and we need your help,” said Summey, who said he wanted to bring 250 residents on a trip to address the state Legislature.
Already, a group of residents has formed a Facebook group, which is growing rapidly, and a website has popped up. The site allows users to sign an online petition and write letters of support.
A large e-mail list was compiled by meeting organizers during the gathering, and 100 bumper stickers that read “Save Park Circle No More Rails” were long gone moments after the crowd was dismissed.
Nicholai Burton, 28, lives in Park Circle and operates a nonprofit movie theater on East Montague Avenue. He helped design the website and said that TV ads and more Internet campaigns are on the way.
“We’re going to do what we can,” Burton said.
Reach Daniel Brock at 843-849-3144.
I urge all of you to go the link and sign the petition http://parkcirclestrong.org/