News from 206 South Main Street
LEADING IN OUR COMMUNITY UNDER A “NEW NORMAL”
As a community, we continue to find our way through a “new normal” veiled under the Covid-19 virus threat. Our Greenville County COVID-19 Data Hub indicates that although we greatly reduced our daily new case rates of infection from mid-summer, we continue to have daily trends of new cases steadily higher than April and May. We should all continue to due our part as recommended by the CDC: wear a mask covering your mouth and nose; practice social distancing; wash hands thoroughly and frequently; stay at home if you are sick and get tested if you have symptoms of Covid-19.
And….because our economic recovery is supported every time we keep our business in Greenville please shop locally if you are able to do so.
Absentee voting in person will be available beginning October 5th through November 2nd at County Square, located at 301 University Ridge, for registered voters in Greenville County (please click here for hours of operation). Additional satellite precincts will be available for absentee voting throughout the county (please click here for satellite absentee voting precinct locations and hours of operation). All registered voters are now eligible to vote absentee under the “State of Emergency” reason. For questions about voter registration, polling locations, or to view your sample ballot, please visit the SC Election Commission help site by clicking here.
If you have not already done so, please complete your Census. We are approaching the end of the Census 2020 data collection period and the Census Bureau will deliver apportionment counts to the President and Congress as required by law in December. The results of the 2020 Census will help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into our community every year for the next decade. That funding shapes many different aspects of every community, no matter the size, no matter the location. It is critical that as a community, we receive our fair share of funding and elected representation, both of which are impacted by the Census data. You can complete your Census online by clicking here.
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Important Links for the COVID-19 Virus Local Response
FOR UPDATES AND INFORMATION ON THE CITY RESPONSE PLEASE CLICK HERE.
FOR INFORMATION ON GREENVILLE COUNTY CARES ACT FUNDING PLEASE CLICK HERE.
FOR INFORMATION ON RESOURCES FOR BUSINESSES PROVIDED BY THE SOUTH CAROLINA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE CLICK HERE.
FOR INFORMATION REGARDING GREENLINK SERVICE ALERTS PLEASE CLICK HERE.
FOR INFORMATION ON CITY EVENTS CANCELED/POSTPONED PLEASE CLICK HERE.
FOR INFORMATION ON THE GREENVILLE COUNTY RESPONSE PLEASE CLICK HERE.
FOR UPDATED INFORMATION FROM SC DHEC PLEASE CLICK HERE.
Representing City Council on Boards & Commissions
ALL THINGS TRANSPORTATION & TOURISM
As a member of Council, I serve as the Council Representative to the VisitGreenvilleSC Board of Directors and the Greenville Airport Commission which oversees our Downtown Airport. I also serve as the Council Representative to the Greenville Transit Authority (GTA) which oversees our Greenlink transportation system. Here are some updates and points that may be of interest to you:
- The Visit Greenville South Carolina (VGSC) Board of Directors met on August 13th. In response to the pandemic, VGSC stopped all advertising activity including TV, digital and print orders on March 16th. Travel has resumed slightly, and is expected to continue to trend upward but with a noticeable reduction in business and group travel from pre-Covid levels. In response to these trends, VGSC is resuming advertising and marketing of Greenville, especially our treasured outdoor assets such as our parks and trails. VGSC created a new advertising campaign: “Save a date. Make plans. Stay with Confidence.” which has launched this fall. With our hospitality industry hit harder than most others in the pandemic, VGSC has a critical responsibility for the recovery of this industry.
VGSC advertisement, Southern Living Magazine, October 2020
- The Greenville Downtown Airport played host in August to representatives from the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) for the General Aviation Advancing America series of discussions with local leaders. This meeting allowed NATA the opportunity to convey how general aviation stakeholders facilitate the success of a community and how regional airports like our own serve as a runway for economic development, job recovery, and emergency response. This event also highlighted the critical role of the airport and its tenant businesses in assisting throughout the COVID pandemic, during recovery, and beyond. In addition, this gathering offered a unique opportunity to learn about modern general aviation aircraft with “glass” cockpits and enhanced safety features, including aircraft having their own parachutes.
Councilmember Dowe with representatives of NATA and the Greenville Airport Commission
- Greenlink received a grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Human Trafficking Awareness and Public Safety Initiative, which provides funding for projects to help prevent human trafficking and other crimes on public transportation. Greenlink is using its grant to conduct an 18-month education and awareness campaign to address this problem.Human trafficking is a growing concern in our state, and Greenville is not immune to the problem. The State Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Annual Report released last January indicated a 360% increase in the reported number of cases of human trafficking in our state in 2019 alone. Greenville County is now listed as the second highest county for human trafficking in the state, behind Horry County.
Greenlink’s commitment to serving and improving our community by helping to address this problem began with Phase I of the education and awareness campaign, launched earlier this month. Phase I includes a survey to help determine the public’s existing knowledge and perception of human trafficking in Greenville County. The survey will be conducted onboard Greenlink buses and is also available online at https://publicinput.com/trafficking. The deadline to complete the survey is October 11.
City Council appoints seven member Ad Hoc Citizen Advisory Panel on Public Safety
In the wake of the protests that began following the murder of George Floyd, the Council established this panel to review current Greenville Police Department (GPD) policies and programs, specifically:
- Use of Force policies
- Body-Worn Camera policies
- K-9 policies
- Training policies including de-escalation tactics
- Composition, duties and responsibilities of the Public Safety Citizen Review Board (PSCRB)
Each member of Council was allowed one appointee to this panel, with Mayor White’s appointment serving as Chair. The Panel has been holding regular, public meetings of the whole, in addition to sub-committee meetings for each of the items under review. Members of the Panel are: Reverend Stacey Mills (Chair), Karen Baynes Dunning, Jerry Blassingame, Cindy Crick, Mary Duckett, Wesley D. Few, and Stacey Owens. To review the qualifications/biographies of these appointees, and/or participate in a survey to determine how citizens view the GPD and what changes they would like to see made, please click here.
City Council passes a Resolution to modify and continue the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program to evaluate and implement, where appropriate, a neighborhood’s request for traffic calming measures.
The existing Traffic Calming Program was implemented to facilitate the City and residents working together to improve public safety on neighborhood streets and had not been updated since 2003. For background, traffic calming is a method of slowing traffic through physical treatments to streets originally designed primarily for vehicles. The most common examples include speed humps, medians and traffic circles.
This Resolution implemented four modifications to the Traffic Calming Program as follows:
- Street closures, diverters, neck downs, or any device restricting access or circulation are removed from the list of available traffic calming devices
- City staff will develop a process to remove traffic calming devices previously installed where appropriate
- At the sole discretion of the City Engineer, additional traffic calming options not included on the list may be considered where warranted in a case where a street already has devices installed.
- City streets eligible for traffic calming must have an average daily traffic volume between 300 and 2500 vehicles per day. Streets with lower volume may be considered for traffic calming if excessive speed data is collected, or if nearby traffic calming installations impose additional traffic warranting consideration for lower volume streets.
To learn more about the “Steering Your Way Through the Traffic Calming Program”, please click here.
City on the Cusp of Considering a New Tree Ordinance
One of the City Council priorities established earlier this year is Environmental Sustainability with the intent of protecting our climate, green space, and natural resources. As part of the effort to address our tree canopy, our staff has been diligently working with stakeholders to carefully solicit input and consider recommendations for a new tree ordinance.
I anticipate this proposed new ordinance coming before Council for a vote this calendar year, following consideration by the Planning Commission. This new ordinance will impact all of us, and I encourage everyone to click here to review the proposed ordinance and to take the final public survey that will shape this ordinance for Council’s consideration. This final survey incorporates the following questions to allow for further public input to the proposed ordinance:
- What tree protections, if any, should the new ordinance include for existing single-family residences?
- Should the fees suggested for the fee-in-lieu program in the new ordinance be increased, decreased or remain as suggested?
- Should the new ordinance allow an exemption from the tree replacement requirements or fee-in-lieu if a development includes affordable housing?
Affordable and Workforce Housing Progress
Council recently received a briefing on progress made towards addressing our challenges as a city in providing access to affordable and workforce housing. Our priority is to create housing opportunities for all people regardless of income. The City relies on developing affordable and workforce housing using federal block grants provided by HUD (Housing and Urban Development), as well as through our partnership with the Greenville Housing Fund.
Since 2018, the Greenville Housing Fund (GHF) has deployed funds and city owned property to support preservation and new construction of affordable and workforce housing. A total of 539 units of affordable housing throughout the City have been created by the GHF with the investment of public funds and leveraging public-private partnerships.
GVL2040 Comprehensive Plan
The first draft of the GVL2040 Comprehensive Plan was released for review by the Steering Committee, key staff members and City Council members. During the next quarter, I anticipate comments will be considered and incorporated into the Comprehensive Plan, and we will be on track for adoption in the first quarter of 2021.
Following adoption of the GVL2040 plan, we will enter a three phased plan of implementation. Phase I is projected to take place in 2021-2022. This will be a critical period for updating policies, especially our land management code which includes zoning, to support the vision of GVL2040 and enable us to progress as a City by making decisions that reflect our values as defined in the Comp. Plan.
If you wish to learn more about the GVL2040 plan, please click here.
Proud Moments on Council
HIGHLIGHTING THE WORK OF THE SUFFRAGETTE MOVEMENT WITH OUR LOCAL GIRL SCOUT TROOP 829
Councilmember Dowe with members of GST 829Recognizing this year as the centennial anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment to our Constitution, it was my honor to meet with this group of young women to assist with their work towards earning their “Behind the Ballot” merit badge. Upon earning this badge, girl scouts have learned the importance of voting and how people get elected to office.
PEACEMAKER BENCH DEDICATION COMMEMORATING THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE UPSTATE MEDIATION CENTER
Ryan Calloway, artist and blacksmith, Creative Iron Works
The Upstate Mediation Center commissioned Greenville’s own artisan, Ryan Calloway, to create the Peacemaker Bench, located in Cleveland Park near shelter #2. The City of Greenville provided support for this effort, and accepted the donation of the bench as part of its growing public art collection. A plaque is located next to the bench to recognize recipients of the Upstate Mediation Center’s annual Peacemaker Award. This award is designed to recognize community members who make a significant difference in promoting tolerance, building goodwill and understanding, resolving conflict and striving for peace. Victoria Chance and Mary Anne Inglis, founders of My Neighbor’s Voice, were recognized as the 2019 award winners.
TOURING THE NEW GATEWAY CLUBHOUSE FACILITY
Councilmember Dowe, Martha Armstrong, Councilmember DeWorken
Gateway provides a community and evidenced-based approach to the treatment of serious mental illnesses. The Gateway Clubhouse is a community center that serves as the hub for all of the opportunities and activities that are offered to its members. It is a place of acceptance, belonging, and inclusivity—an antidote to isolation. I had the opportunity to tour their new facility on Croft Street with my fellow Councilmember John DeWorken and Gateway Director of Development, Martha Armstrong.