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Traffic: POA group wants fix to local roads rather than sidewalks

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Georgetown County needs to put money into improving local streets for Waccamaw Neck residents, not sidewalks along Highway 17, members of area property owners associations say.

“I think it’s a huge waste of money to put sidewalks down there before they fix the roads,” Frank D’Amato, president of the Tradition Property Owners Association told the board of the Waccamaw Neck Council of POAs. He asked the council to lobby County Council to keep the focus on roads.

The idea of creating a “walkable” community was raised by County Council Member Steve Goggans after he took office last year. It was among the arguments he marshalled for a proposal to reduce the setback for buildings along Highway 17, an idea that was voted down by the council after months of debate.

Bob Hesterfer, a POA council board member, noted Goggans is the only council member advocating sidewalks. He said he agreed with D’Amato and pointed out that in Mount Pleasant, which is often cited as a model for sidewalks, he sees very few people out walking.

“It’s a vision of small town America that doesn’t exist anymore,” said Bill Renault, a council board member.

Told of the POA council concerns, Goggans said the choice isn’t between sidewalks or road work. “Side streets need to be done, too,” he said.

But sidewalks are needed for safety as well as convenience. “We have a walkable community, we just don’t have the infrastructure,” Goggans said.

The POA council won’t take a position on sidewalks without polling its member associations, said Tom Stickler, who chairs the council board.

Building sidewalks in the Pawleys Island business district won’t help people in Litchfield who have to drive to the shops anyway, D’Amato said. However fixing the back roads would make sure residents can get around the community without having to travel on Highway 17.

Repaving of Kings River Road between Willbrook and Hagley is under way, funded through the county’s 1-cent capital improvement sales tax. While the condition of the road drew complaints, Sticker said he is now hearing concerns from residents in Hagley, where he is president of the property owners association, that speeding will increase once the potholes are fixed.

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