Environmental issues, safety key issues in Arcadia Lakes mayor race

ccope@thestate.comOctober 30, 2013 

— The Arcadia Lakes community will choose Nov. 5 between a town councilwoman who has lived in the area for four decades and an environmentally conscious resident with 36 years of experience in law enforcement as its next mayor.

Councilwoman Linda Jackson and Mark Huguley are vying to replace Mayor Rick Thomas, who is retiring after 16 years on council, 10 as mayor.

The campaign has been heated in this otherwise quiet community of about 890 residents, with the environment and safety among key issues for the candidates.

Jackson opposed the draining of the highly visible Roper Pond, the lily pond that once served as a natural gateway into the town but was drained and now collects stormwater from nearby apartments.

Jackson, along with the four other council members and 16 individual petitioners, asked the S.C. Supreme Court in July to hear an appeal of an earlier ruling siding with the developer and the Department of Health and Environmental Control on the development around Roper Pond. The S.C. Supreme Court has made no decision on the case.

But Huguley said it was an “impractical and unwise” decision for Jackson and the others to appeal the lawsuit. He said the litigation has distracted council from attending to other legitimate needs.

Huguley said one of those needs is the Arcadia Woods Lake dam, which has been deemed unsafe by DHEC and is in need of repairs.

The community has identified itself as the town with seven lakes, he said, adding, “If one of those lakes is gone then the identity is eroded.”

Jackson agrees that the issue needs to be addressed.

She said about 14 families are directly affected by Arcadia Woods Lake dam.

Some property owners have said they don’t own the dam and can’t afford to pay to fix it.

Huguley said he would like to see public and private groups pressure the state Department of Transportation to pay a portion of the cost and come up with a solution to pay for the rest.

But Jackson said the state should take over the issue.

“We’ve got to find a governmental entity that will take that dam and maintain it,” Jackson said. She said she would want state representatives to help put pressure on the state to take ownership of the dam.

Huguley and Jackson both agree a planned elementary school along Trenholm Road Extension could negatively affect nearby Cary Lake.

Jackson said she is concerned about sedimentation and pollution from development at the school site.

Huguley said he is concerned because the land being developed has wetlands, but he doesn’t oppose the school because “schools make good neighbors.”

Neither candidate had specific ideas on addressing the school issue.

On public safety, Huguley said council should look into using security cameras to prevent car and house break-ins.

Jackson said council has been waiting to see whether the Richland County Sheriff’s Department will install security cameras in Arcadia Lakes, since some were recently added to nearby areas.

If the Sheriff’s Department installs cameras, then the town would not have to spend the money, she said.

Also on the Nov. 5 ballot for the town are two council seats, with Don Davis and Peter Chesney running.

If Jackson wins the mayor’s race, there will be a special election to fill her vacant seat on the five-member council, town clerk Christine Murphy said.

Reach Cope at 803-771-8657 or on Twitter @cassielcope.

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