Council sets goals for 23-24

BLYTHEWOOD – Blythewood Town Council held a special called meeting Friday morning, Jan. 6, to discuss goals for the upcoming budget year and beyond. 

Charlie Barrineau, a field services manager with the South Carolina Municipal Association, coached the group on communication and cooperation in order to properly and effectively set goals. 

“The challenge is that there are five of you.  You don’t have to agree but have to work together respectfully,” Barrineau said.  “There are 271 cities and towns in our state.  The ones that get things done understand that.  Praise in public and criticize in private.  When you can control your emotions and communicate you can accomplish a lot.  If you can’t get the first part right you can forget about setting goals.  You also need to have the staff and the tools you need to achieve your goals,” Barrineau said.

“An example is annexation. You have to be willing to say do we have enough staff or do we hire an outside consultant.  Do we increase taxes to pay for a consultant?  Do I want to annex or do I want to hold the line?” he said. “Also, maintain good relationships with businesses, demonstrate stewardship for the future, and use a strategic plan as a road map.  Do not get caught up in the day to day operations.  Hand the baton to your staff.”

“A big goal,” Barrinear said, “is for Blythewood to have a strong, healthy economy and, to get that, you want a diverse mix of small locally owned businesses and we want to focus on work force development training.”

Barrineau encouraged council to look to stakeholders, state government representatives and others who hold the purse strings for projects in the town as well as hiring a lobbyist at some point. He also suggested they look at the state budget for funding.

Franklin suggested hiring a lobbyist at some point in the future. For the most part, Franklin reviewed the goals that came out of the 2021 goal-setting meeting.

Goal # 1: Veterans Park.

“The town administrator e-mails me every two weeks on the agenda, who is going to speak, etc.  Churches have helped make sure every veteran has a flag on their grave.  We are going to try and include more churches,” Franklin said. 

Goal # 2: Blythewood a Christmas destination with the Christmas parade.

Franklin said the decorating has been outsourced due to the time and resources taken by staff. 

“It saves us time and money.  The company not only puts up and takes down the decorations they also maintain them.  It just makes better sense,” said Franklin.  He suggested that a competition could be held at the park with visitors judging the Christmas displays. 

Goal # 3: Street modernization including McNulty and Creech Road to create a town center district.

The proposed current scope recommends roadway improvements in the Blythewood Road area specific to a prioritized listing as provided by the Town of Blythewood.

  • Priority #1- Widen and improve McNulty Street from Main Street to Blythewood Road;
  • Priority #2- Widen, extend and improve Creech Road from Blythewood Road to Main Street;
  • Priority #3- Widen and improve Blythewood Road from I-77 to Main Street. 

Councilman Rich McKenrick emphasized the importance of in-person council visits. 

“I’m the representative for the TPAC committee which is nothing more than an information receiving body.  There are no additional funds there.  They just tell you where they are in the process.  That is not going to fix Blythewood’s transportation issues.  TPAC is a steering committee which hands out a report that shows how they spent millions of dollars.  We’d have to be in DC to get some of these projects.  Yes, there are some in South Carolina but there are some bigger than the state in some cases,” he said. 

Goal # 4: Increase annexation by 25 percent.  A consultant will be engaged to help with marketing related to annexation.

“Most of the residents of Eagles Glen subdivision can’t wait to be part of Blythewood,” Franklin said.  “Then you have folks on Sandfield Road that say, ‘No way.’  What they are saying is what’s in it for me if I bring my farm into Blythewood?  That’s what they want to know.  We have to look at the cost now versus tomorrow, the benefits and changes that will occur,” he said. 

Goal # 5: Make the industrial park the premier expansion location in the state. 

Franklin said he had spoken with the Secretary of Commerce and the Governor.

“They are all about it.  We’re making in-roads there as you have read in the newspaper.  We just need Jeff Ruble [Richland County Economic Development Director] and the folks in the state economic development office to continue to bring vendors here to relocate,” Franklin said.  

Goal # 6: Make Blythewood a festival destination. 

“I have had folks come up to me and say it seems every month there is something we can attend as a family.  Thank you for that,” said Franklin.  “A concern of which festivals to allocate tax dollars to has been addressed.” 

McKenrick suggested the Town create a non-profit to handle festivals. 

Goal # 7: Have a multi-cultural civic center.  

Franklin said the Town is waiting on the school district to turn over the Bethel Hanberry gym, and that Council has set aside $500,000 for repairs to the building. 

Goal # 8: Become a premier destination for sports tournaments. 

Franklin said a consultant is currently engaged to create a master plan for such a destination. 

“We are in the middle of securing property.  Who helps us with this goal?” he asked. “You are talking $1- $12- $15 million dollars to build these parks.  Who do we contact?  Do we get USDA grants?  We should contact the county for some revenue sharing, because they are going to benefit from that as well,” Franklin said.

Goal # 9: Complete planned street improvements which is covered in Goal # 3.

Goal # 10: Environmental stewardship. 

“This is one we have really lagged on,” said Franklin. “We have not given a lot of attention on this. Councilman Brock brought up tree planting in the park. That was a great start to this. Then we kind of let it lapse.  I have talked to the Blythewood Garden Club about coming up with a program or maybe a competition.  You have to provide plots of land where families, businesses or what have you can sign up to compete.  You give them a little bit of seed money to buy plants and then have a competition and give out gift cards or something.  It’s a win-win.  It gets people out and we are helping the environment all at the same time.  We do have a tree purchase program where you can buy and dedicate a tree in the name of a decedent or family member but we have not marketed that aggressively,” Franklin said.

In other business:  An outside firm is reviewing town ordinances to make sure nothing obsolete is on the books.  Council talked about expanding Doko Meadows Park and also about adding one new item to the playground each year. 

Comments

  1. Jeff Prokop says

    I’m not quite sure who the “Most of the residents of Eagles Glen subdivision can’t wait to be part of Blythewood” mayor Franklin references. But I suspect that was just a throwaway line.

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