County Council Candidates Answer Bike Walk Greenville Q's

Woman Bikes in Travelers Rest
Photo credit Imagn - Matt Burkhartt
By 106.3 WORD
Released by Bike Walk Greenville.

The June 9, 2020 Republican Primary for Greenville County Council has a total of 7 candidates for districts 20, 21, and 22 and we asked these candidates questions important to our advocacy. 

District 20 is open with the retirement of Sid Cates. The candidates are Christy Cates Bright and Steve Shaw. 

District 21 has incumbent Council member Rick Roberts, and candidates Stacy Kuper and Chris Harrison. 

District 22 is open with the retirement of Bob Taylor.  The candidates are Kenneth Cosgrove and Stan Tzouvelakas.

As a 501c3 non-profit we do not endorse candidates, we do this only to inform voters.

All seven candidates were invited to participate, and we are surprised that only two of the seven responded. 

We have been asking candidates questions about their views on safe biking and walking infrastructure since 2014 and this is the first time we have had this lack of responsiveness.Our Questions:

Greenville County has not had line items in the biennial budget for Swamp Rabbit Trail expansion. (The City of Greenville has prior to COVID-19 budgeted $1 MM a year for Greenway Trails, and their latest budget eliminates the $1MM for FY20-21 but suggests it continue for the next four fiscal years thereafter.) 

Will you support a budget of $1MM to $2MM a year for trail expansion projects including the Orange Line from Hampton Station to New Washington Heights, The expansion north to Slater- Marietta, and County portions of trail from CU-ICAR to Mauldin, Simpsonville and Fountain Inn.

In 2013-14 Bike Walk Greenville help sponsor the Greenville County Safe Routes to School Recreation and Work Plan.

100 biking and walking projects from that plan were included in the 2014 penny sales tax referendum that was handily defeated. 

Six years later the needs identified in this plan are unfunded, or if funded by the GPATS long term transportation plan they are 20 or more years from construction. 

As a County Council member how can this funding shortfall be solved?

County Land Development ordinances require sidewalks in new subdivisions but fail to require private funding for sidewalks on existing roads that may easily connect to a school or business destination (say within ½ mile of the subdivision).

How can funding such needed sidewalk connectivity be addressed by County Council?

District 20 Answers- Mr. Shaw and Ms. Bright did not respond.District 21 Answers:

Answers from Stacy Kuper received on May 28, 2020:

Thank you for asking all the candidates to submit answers to such an important subject that significantly impacts a well planned community.  Yes I would support the Budget for trail expansion projects. The Swamp Rabbit trail has had a positive impact for Greenville and is part of the reason that it is a very desirable place to live. I served on the GCEDC ( Greenville County Economic Development Corporation) which holds the train track right of ways that make up the Swamp Rabbit Trails therefore very familiar with this subject. In addition the Five Forks Area Plan committee which I serve on, has identified yet another way to link to the CU-ICAR part of the trail from the Pelham Mills Falls location. Obviously the money budgeted will not be enough so community collaboration and other opportunities for private donations and grants will be needed. I would advocate for a special committee that would work with the Council to make this a reality.

My entire campaign is based on the premise that we cannot keep managing a County of this size and prosperity without enhancing our ability to leverage are own software to run predictive studies that will support proactive growth. The ability to run traffic studies and include the need of bike lanes and sidewalks where needed will be the only way to financially predict what the right budget for the future would need to be so that it accommodate the needs of a Twenty First Century community. There are many grants that will fund recreation health initiatives , with the creation of a committee that focuses on recreation this can happen. Having the ability to visually show future modeling and statistical budgets can empower council to budget without  the need of additional tax money.

I have been a long time advocate about the need for connectivity outside of a neighborhood and this has to be addressed. Schools are required to also have sidewalks all around and crosswalks but they are sidewalks to “nowhere”. As the county is looking at creating a new Uniform Code  I want to be a voice to champion for additional code requirements for the more heavily populated areas. When the planning commission is looking to approve a new development these items should be part of the approval process nit just a reference document and should include adequate sidewalks, connectivity, traffic studies, sewage studies and parking where it applies. The county owning their own software that overlays over the GIS system would enable the county to require these studies (charge a fee) and show a developer exactly what their portion of the cost would be to include sidewalks and any road improvements needed to support new development.My motto is: Responsible and Planned Growth puts the burden of improvements on the Developers and Tax Payers but increases the value of real property. Chaotic growth puts all the burden on the Tax Payer and  eventually reduces the value of real property

Mr. Harrison and Mr. Roberts did not respond. District 22 Answers:

Answers from Kenneth Cosgrove received on May 28, 2020:Thanks for emailing me and giving me the opportunity to correspond. Unfortunately due to Covid I’d be very hesitant to make any commitments to financial support on these kind of concepts (or frankly much of anything!). If we can get through this dip which I generally hope to be a one or two revenue decline and get back to positive numbers then I would love to brainstorm on how to improve connectivity. Honestly its not something I am extremely informed on and if elected I would love to get some time with you guys and teach me more about the topic.I know that’s probably not the answers you were hoping for but this is a crazy year and I’m concerned the budget is going to be extremely tight. In any case, I wanted to be upfront with you. I’d be honored by your groups consideration for vote. I would love to chat further with you or anyone in your group residing in D22.Thank you!’Mr. Tzouvelakas did not respond.


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