Commentary: Mount Pleasant voters should vote yes on parks and other amenities | Comment

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Mount Pleasant is blessed with beautiful oak trees, many of which are over 100 years old. They exist because those who were here long ago had the foresight to plant these trees for future generations to enjoy. Now, City Council is providing a clear vision for much-needed expansion and repairs to Mount Pleasant’s green and recreational spaces. But the final decision is in the hands of our fellow citizens.

Rifle Range Park was purchased in 2011, with the goal of preserving green spaces and providing recreation on more than 240 acres, a joint effort of the city and the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission.

Imagine having a Mount Pleasant Central Park at the heart of our community. A “yes” vote on the parks referendum question would provide amenities for residents of all ages by increasing indoor and outdoor activity space, thereby addressing a critical need. It would continue to preserve approximately 78% of the site’s 244 acres as wetlands and green space.

Funds from this referendum would build a picnic area, playgrounds, a large lawn with a performance stage, a gymnasium, basketball courts, a fishing pier, trails, rectangular fields and more Again.

This would create additional sidewalks and connectivity in our community via Mount Pleasant Way. It would also add annual operating funding to maintain these spaces.

All of this can be built on just $6.67 a month for 15 years for a home with a county assessed value of $500,000, an amount that would be higher or lower depending on the value of your property. But the municipality will not have to wait 15 years to get started. If the referendum is successful, we can start building immediately.

Mount Pleasant is a world class city and deserves world class facilities. It is also a city with the lowest property tax rate of any comparable Lowcountry community – less than half that of Charleston and North Charleston. In fact, most homes in our community—all valued at less than $800,000—don’t pay enough taxes to cover the cost of the services they receive from the city. Mount Pleasant works on a small budget. So meager, in fact, that we have no money for much-needed capital projects.

Without the support of our community, Mount Pleasant must cut its recreation department’s budget to upgrade deteriorating facilities. Currently, at Park West Pool, visitors must walk through the locker rooms to get to the pool.

A “yes” vote in the referendum would add general pool access and a family locker room, an upgraded HVAC, and a rebuilt locker room complex.

It would also add tennis courts, shelters, restrooms and lighting to Mugsy Kerr’s tennis complex.

It is more important than ever to give our citizens the opportunity to interact in a fun social setting. Parks, recreation, trails and green spaces provide a safer community and allow our children, our elders and the rest of our citizens to come together as a community.

Please vote ‘yes’ to green spaces, ‘yes’ to the arts, ‘yes’ to community space, ‘yes’ to our children and ‘yes’ to the recreation referendum on November 8th. For more information, visit VoteParks.org or search Facebook for Vote for Parks — Mount Pleasant.

GM Whitley and John Iacofano are members of Mount Pleasant City Council.

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