Letter to the Editor

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Simpsonville, Editorial

December 20, 2022 by Chad O'Rear - Views: 89

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Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Never in my life did I ever think I would have to write something like this.  I had an idyllic childhood growing up in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s in the Poinsettia neighborhood in Simpsonville.  Sure, there was no I-385 then but we had Main St. to Laurens Rd that took us anywhere in Greenville County we needed to go.  We also had Hunter St.  Now, we no longer have Hunter St or a town government that operates transparently.    The thousands of taxpayers in the City of Simpsonville deserve better than how the Mayor and city council rammed through the closure of Hunter St.  Here is how it happened as I understand it through public records, public meetings, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and personal conversations with public officials.

FOIA Requests 

Per the Mayor, a single resident of League Estates, which encompasses Hunter St., North and South Pliney Circle, and Perry Ave., presented him with a petition signed by approximately 20 residents presumably asking him to close Hunter St. due to safety concerns.  When I asked the city to produce this petition via a FOIA request they could not.  The Mayor further has stated that he personally took time to view the traffic and deemed it to be dangerous.  When I asked the city to produce the Mayors observations via FOIA request I received two pictures and a short video of a couple of tractor trailer trucks.  Curious as to the amount of incidents in the area I filed another FOIA request to produce the data for the previous 18 months of incidents or citations the police had been involved in.  Only six (6)!  In 18 months!  Hardly cause for alarm.

Since I didn’t see any alarming safety data coming from the police department I asked the city, via another FOIA request, what safety study they used to justify the closing of Hunter St.  After stringing me along for a while they admitted they had none, which gets us to the only study that does exist.  In partnership with the Greenville Legislative Delegation the SCDOT prepared and extensive Traffic Impact Study for the City of Simpsonville.  In the Executive Summary it says, “an additional concern of adding cut through traffic through the Pliney and Poinsettia neighborhoods could occur and should be monitored after the downtown traffic plan had been implemented.”  (Notice the words “could occur” and especially the word “after”.)  The SCDOT didn’t recognize an issue now and recommended that nothing be done in these neighborhoods until after the downtown traffic plan be implemented.  When asked by multiple people on many occasions, the Mayor will not answer why Hunter St. had to be closed now.  

Traffic Calming Policy

The City of Simpsonville has what is called a Traffic Calming Policy and it can be found on the website.  Not to bore you with all the details of how this has to be initiated and implemented, I can tell you for a fact that the requirements were not met by the petitioners.  The City didn’t even try to implement anything that could have mitigated any of the safety fears of the residents of League Estates.  When I specifically asked why the City didn’t employ speed bumps I was told that “speed bumps don’t work.”  I told him that at that point the City was no longer talking in good faith.  Another FOIA request asking them to produce the study to back up their claim came back empty.  In personally speaking to the Mayor, though a very nice man, he will not hear any solution other than permanent closure.  Considering how he hid this process from the public from start to finish I guess he just wants to make sure he finishes the job.

SCDOT Recommendation not adhered to 


End of the Road
On November 23 the City installed barricades
at the intersection of Hunter St and 
Jonesville Rd effectively shutting down 
an artery into the city.

Since just a few residents of League Estates wanted this closure, and believe me they were the only ones that had any idea that Hunter St. was being closed…there are a lot of people that are not happy about it! The closure was never on the written agenda and the actual vote was tied to the overall traffic pattern change proposed by SCDOT.  Hunter St. never received a separate vote!  What is most alarming is the fact that the closure is a full two years ahead the anticipated completion of the proposed traffic changes in the City of Simpsonville.  When pressed as to why he won’t follow the recommendations of the SCDOT the Mayor won’t answer.  To be fair to many of the Council members, they have expressed genuine surprise at the backlash they have received once the large electronic billboards went up.  They had no idea that no one outside of League Estates knew that Hunter St. was to be closed permanently.

So, where did the November 23 closure date come from?  According to the city Administrator they needed the electronic billboards back to advertise the city Christmas parade.  I kid you not.  A decision as drastic as permanently closing a road to the taxpayers who have funded it for over 70 years came down to that?  But here’s where it gets really sticky concerning the November 23 closure date.  Per another FOIA request there were no minutes kept at a Council Retreat where the November 23 closure date was discussed “as no votes by Council were optional, planned, or taken.”  But, in and email also obtained by FOIA, from the city Administrator to a Council member she stated, “At the Retreat, in the presence of all but one member of council, we discussed the dates for signage and closure without any objection.”  A council member verbally stated to me that they did indeed “vote” on the November 23 date at the Retreat.  

The taxpayers of our small, but obviously growing, city deserve better than this.  The sign of a big person is someone who is willing to admit when they have made a mistake and to correct that mistake.  The decision to close Hunter St. was based purely on emotion and was not anchored at all in facts.  I and hundreds of other taxpayers have and are continuing to ask the City of Simpsonville to step up and do the right thing by putting closure of Hunter St. on the agenda for a public vote.  

Chad O’Rear

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