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‘Visions’ process will resume for long-range planning

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Georgetown County Council members endorsed the idea of Visions 3, another round of long-range planning to begin exploring the county’s needs for the next decade, during a workshop this week.

The county’s capital improvement program is scheduled to end in 2018 with the construction of a $7 million addition to the county jail and a new recreation center in Andrews as the final big ticket items. County Council members backed the idea of naming a Visions 3 committee by July 1, 2017, if the groundwork of identifying leaders, key participants and areas of work could be accomplished. That new steering committee would have six months to form a long-range plan that would be taken to communities for public input.

“You’re reading my mind,” Council Member Steve Goggans told Hemingway. “I think we need a plan for the plan.”

The original program, initiated under former County Administrator Tommy Edwards, has led to major building projects on the Waccamaw Neck that include the Waccamaw recreation center at Parkersville, Murrells Inlet Community Center, Waccamaw Library, Retreat Park, a magistrate’s court and sheriff’s substation at Litchfield Exchange, road improvements and drainage projects. There are dozens more county-wide that include a new airport terminal, the county industrial park near Andrews, the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex and Howard Auditorium in Georgetown.

“It’s a rarity,” County Administrator Sel Hemingway told council members Wednesday, “to design and complete a program like this. The key is a dedicated revenue stream and remaining flexible to conditions and pricing.”

Council Member Austin Beard said the county has “taken a beating along the way” of the capital improvement plan for the number of new recreation facilities and the debt associated with building them. “The results,” Beard said, “show that we kind of knew what we were doing. We need another plan.”

Council Member Leona Myers-Miller said people are left out when the county starts identifying “leaders” to form plans. Council Chairman Johnny Morant said he wanted to encourage public participation in anything the county proposed.

The Georgetown County Airport’s terminal is the envy of municipal airports across the mid-Atlantic, according to Jay Talbot of Talbot and Bright, airport consultants, during the council’s retreat. He said users of the county airport in the past year include entertainers Jimmy Buffett and Toby Keith, race car driver Jimmy Johnson, newscaster Cokie Roberts and entrepreneurs Ted Turner and Darla Moore.

The Federal Aviation Authority has committed $4 million to the airport over the next three years for land, tree clearing and environmental assessments to extend the flight path at each end of the 6,000-foot runway. He said if Georgetown County could add 1,000 feet to the airport’s runway, it could accept aircraft capable of flying coast to coast.

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