I have been following the letters and/or comments in the paper about the Streetscape proposals. Quite frankly, I and a number of folks that I talk with on Saturday a.m., while we are at the Saturday Market, seem to think that the overall plan is a totally waster of money.
My question to the Town Council is this: Why is it that about every 8 to 10 years someone gets this wild idea that it is time to dig up the square1 I remember quite well what the square looked like when I moved here in 1972. We had stores to shop in – Belks, Keesleys, Turners, Crouches, Outlet stores, Dodds, Tidwells – just to name a few! Now most of the buildings in the town are occupied by county offices. Those that are not currently occupied, from what I am told, the rent is so high no one can possibly make any money and stay any length of time.
I remember also that in the late 70s the square was dug up, trees planted, they died, all of this with much inconvenience to the business around the square. The trees died, so in a few years, guess what; someone decided that the square needed to be dug up again. This time for months was a mess in town so most folks decided to shop elsewhere. However the gazebo was built on the square. How long did that last before the filming of the movie “That Darned Cat” and the gazebo was torn down. No more evening concerts. Well, what came next, DIG UP THE SQUARE; another bright idea, put in the water fountain. How many months, years did this last before another bright idea came to someone’s mind. Let’s dig up the square and make sidewalks. Plant more trees in the sidewalks so the roots can uproot the sidewalks and streets. Another 3-4 months of inconvenience to people who wanted to shop in town. This is seen as a discouragement to businesses.
From my observations, and listening to the visitors on Saturday morning, we have a beautiful square. Leave it alone. Don’t misunderstand me. I fully agree that in order to grow sometimes we need to make changes. However, widening the sidewalks, putting tables and benches for folks to sit on and to drink coffee and to read the paper or a book – in 90 degree heat –it isn’t gonna’ happen in Edgefield. Yet, there are several needed changes to be made to improve the town.
One: Take out that tree and protrusions in front of Delectable Delights. Two: Remove the tree and shrubbery in front of the Advertiser office. Those two actions would give a few more parking places.
As for the need for more parking, why do the Town Police not enforce the parking restrictions of business owners who are parking right in front of their businesses. Sometimes there are even county employees parking on the square and going into their offices. WHY? Do they not have plenty of parking spaces behind the Courthouse?
On Saturday morning during the Market on the Square we have more out-of-town visitors then we have local residents shopping for whatever we have to offer: vegetables, flowers, baked goods, wooden benches, stools, lots of bird houses and feeders, ferns and potted plants, boiled peanuts, just to name a few items. Why do the local folks not support LOCAL BUSINESSES? Until local businesses get more local support I do not see much need to make the elaborate changes planned.
For over 17 years I have been trying to get the Town Council to spend some money and develop the grounds around Oakley Park. The whole grounds of Oakley Park belong to the Town of Edgefield according to the deed from Gov. John Gary Evans dated in 1942 – when he gave the whole 47 acres to the Town to be developed as a park for the citizens of Edgefield (see copy of deed). Some paved walkways could be put in throughout the park for walking trails; extend the rail trail through the park and put in a couple of picnic tables for the use of visitors. It there were paved walkways in the park we could plan more festivals under the trees and vendors could come in and stay a day or two, maybe three. We as citizens of this county need to work and promote the very important historic resources we have.
Last thing, I need to bring attention to this: we must do something to get some public restrooms on the square or close by.