Council Seeks Additional Depot Funds

BLYTHEWOOD – Town Council passed yet another resolution Monday night to secure funding for its now-not-so-secret “Project Booster” in the town park — this time, Council is seeking funding from the Santee Cooper Revolving Loan Fund. Last month, Council voted to seek funding made available by the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Both of these funding sources provide low interest loans to local utilities (in Blythewood’s case, through Fairfield Electric Cooperative), which, in turn, loan to local governments “for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas.”

Town Administrator John Perry said that the funding through Santee Cooper is much better than that provided through the REDLG, and that if the Town is able to get the Santee Cooper funding, it will not seek the REDLG funding.

According to both resolutions, Council would use the borrowed funds to “develop, construct and own certain infrastructure projects, including site preparation for and construction of a depot building (‘Projects’), for the exclusive purpose of aiding and promoting the economic development and general welfare of the Town.”

Perry, who was authorized by Council’s vote to work in concert with Fairfield Electric Cooperative, legal counsel and others to secure the funding, would not answer questions about how much funding is being sought or how it will be paid back by the Town.

Perry said in February that the Town plans to use the funding provided through Fairfield Electric Cooperative to landscape the grounds around the “Projects.” A previous resolution passed by Council last August regarding constructing the depot “Projects” in the Town Hall park, referred to the park as a Business Park (‘Park’) and said the Town would like to expand the boundaries of that Business Park to include the Doko Depot “Projects.”

While the Resolution repeatedly refers to the building as a “depot,” Perry told Council at a meeting in March that the Town was not building a depot, but he said the building that is proposed for the park has a spatial relationship to a depot. A semi-replica of the Town’s former depot was once planned for the park, but later scrapped when funding to complete the park as originally planned came up short.

Several sources involved in the project and who have asked not to be identified, have told The Voice that “Project Booster” is the Town’s plan to build a restaurant facility in the park. The restaurant, the sources say, will have an exclusive contract with the Town to cater events held at the Doko Manor.

In other business, Mayor J. Michael Ross presented an award from the Government Finance Officers Association to Perry for the preparation of the Town’s budget.

“The Town’s budget is prepared by one person, the preparer of the budget, John Perry,” the Mayor said as he handed the award to Perry.

It was announced that the Blythewood Brainery at Muller Road Middle School now has 31 enrollees. Lori Marrero, Principal of the school, said she had always envisioned the school as a community school and felt the tax payers had a right to use the school facilities.

“I wanted us to have a place that was ours,” Marrero told Council.

Council also voted to approve a verbal resolution for a $300 annual land lease with the Norfolk-Southern Railroad that would allow the Town to clean up and maintain a 2-mile strip of railroad right of way in the Town. Perry said this was arranged by former Councilman Jim McLean.

During his remarks, Perry said the Town has secured 15-20 leases for the Town Hall’s Doko Manor. He also announced that Rebecca Byork, the Town’s Assistant Town Clerk, who takes minutes at Town Council and Planning Commission meetings, will be leaving her position and moving back to Washington State.

The next Council meeting is at 7 p.m., April 20 at the Doko Manor in the town park.

Speak Your Mind