Town admin leaving Blythewood for Goose Creek

BLYTHEWOOD – Blythewood Town Administrator Brian Cook announced Tuesday he will be leaving his post on December 23, for Goose Creek S.C., where he will serve as the Assistant City Administrator.

Cook

Cook has served Blythewood since January 2018 after working for the City of Columbia and prior to that for Richland County Planning and Zoning.

Besides overseeing Blythewood’s planning, zoning and budget for the last two years, Cook launched a major beautification project for the town shortly after being hired.

“Obviously, we’ve still got a lot of work to do, but we’ve started down that path with the area around the town hall, where you can definitely see a change – re-sodding, new shrubbery, flowering plants and trees,” Cook said. “To make sure that the town can continue down that path, we’ve planned in the budget, each year, for certain projects, not only around town hall, but everywhere around the town.”

One of the things he had planned for the town moving forward is improved signage.

“You can already see some of the utility boxes around town with new town signage. The plan is there for other aspects of beautification as well,” Cook said.

As for the town’s finances, Cook said the town is in good shape and continues to be more and more so every year.

“Even with COVID, I think we will still be okay with our hospitality and accommodation tax revenue where we’ve taken a little bit of a hit. But we’ve not been hit as hard as some of the larger cities that heavily depend on tourism,” he said.

Cook said the upcoming scheduled rewriting of the town’s comprehensive land use plan is a big deal for Blythewood.

“The town is kind of at a crossroads where it could go one of two ways – maintain its small town feel and focus on building that or continue to grow.” Cook said. “Managing that growth will be super important with our comprehensive plan and our land development code. I hope they’ll continue on that after I leave, because that was one of the things that was pretty top on my list.

“Those are the things that pop out the most,” he said. “The beautification plan is so important, especially as Blythewood’s bread and butter comes from hospitality and accommodation taxes and business licenses fees. We need to create an area that stands out from other places.

“We need to continue marketing Blythewood for what it wants to be or doesn’t want to be. That, obviously, kind of works hand in hand with how it looks, so I would say that what we’ve done around town hall in the way of beautification is just kind of the tip of the iceberg that needs to be done for the downtown,” he said. “The town probably needs to be rebranded with a look at how the accommodation and hospitality tax should be spent to enhance the town, you know, to use that money for advertising and promotions,” Cook said. “That’s a pretty big source of marketing money for us, equal to a fulltime marketing position. The town leaders are going to be looking, sooner or later, at how better to spend the accommodation and hospitality tax revenue.”

Mayor Bryan Franklin said the Town appreciates the work Cook has done for the community.

“He’s an outstanding administrator and we will miss him. He’s brought a lot to the town in many areas and we hate to lose him,” Franklin said.  “Nevertheless, we also wish him well in his future position with Goose Creek and in all his endeavors.”

Franklin said the town is advertising for a new administrator to fill Cook’s vacancy.