Public weighs in on hopes for Ft. Jackson-Devine St. area

10/17/2013 11:00 PM

10/17/2013 10:28 PM

Residents in the Fort Jackson Boulevard and Devine Street areas gathered Thursday evening to see proposals for managing the area’s growth.

Residents mostly wanted to make the area pedestrian-friendly, a concern they voiced at a prior meeting, said Kate Pearce, with LandDesign, a consultant on the project.

Trail systems, safe pedestrian connections within and adjacent to neighborhoods and bump outs at intersections, which shorten the time it takes to cross the streets, were ways to make the area better for walking, said Meg Nealon, also of LandDesign.

Traffic in the area has increased since a Whole Foods-based shopping center opened there last year. And this week, a developer announced plans for a PetSmart, a Marshall’s clothing store and a Michael’s craft store on the next block of Devine.

One of the biggest assets in the area is Gills Creek, Pearce said.

Nealon went into depth on the potential of Gills Creek. Plans included sectioning off the green space with urban and recreational parts and also a more natural section.

If the greenway space has the opportunity for a variety of experiences, then it could be a great amenity, Nealon said.

Several million dollars of penny sales tax funds are for greenway projects across the county a portion is for the Gills Creek area, said James Atkins, director of the Richland County Conservation department.

“The idea is to leverage the county and the city’s money on something we all have a shared vision,” Atkins said.

Diane Brown, a resident in the area, said the greenway idea is exciting.

“The other things we’re looking for will be easier to achieve if that greenway gets going,” Brown said.

In addition to prior resident feedback, proposals were also based on assessments of existing conditions, including the range of uses, environmental conditions, traffic patterns and expectations of growth in the area.

Residents were given bright green stickers to identify which areas they felt needed to be prioritized and addressed first.

A draft report will be prepared based on the feedback and the report will be presented to the city of Columbia’s Planning Commission. The Planning Commission will then decide whether to make recommendations to City Council.

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