Politics & Government

State senator doesn’t want SC State House turned into Columbia’s ‘front porch’

Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington
Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington

Even as the city of Columbia is promoting plans to turn the S.C. State House into a “front porch” for the Palmetto State, one legislator is pushing back against the idea, even promoting a petition against it.

Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington, took to Facebook this week to oppose the plan supported by Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin to use a $200,000 grant to turn the State House grounds into a social hub – including hosting a movie night, a picnic, and concerts, among other attractions.

Shealy addressed Benjamin in an open letter on Facebook.

“As much as I respect you and the office you hold, the SC Statehouse and grounds belongs to all the citizens of SC and not to the City of Columbia,” Shealy wrote. “Now as much as I like to play corn hole and sit around in a beach chair or even hang a hammock between two Palmetto Trees, the Grounds of the SC Statehouse is just not the place to do that.”

If the state allows Columbia to hold activites on the grounds, then “Myrtle Beach wants to come build sand castles or maybe Beaufort wants to plant Watermelons.”

“GIlbert [sic] might even want to put up a Peach Stand or two!” she wrote.

She suggested Columbia instead set up such activities in Finlay Park “even at all that empty space you still have at that fancy FireFly Stadium,” a reference to the ongoing BullStreet development.

The next day, Shealy also shared a petition calling to “protect our Statehouse grounds” by having Columbia withdraw the proposal.

Benjamin has appealed to Gov. Henry McMaster to let the city go forward with the plan.

“It can accommodate the Black Panthers from North Florida and the Ku Klux Klan from western North Carolina, but we can’t accommodate our own city which wants to have a family picnic on the State House grounds?” Benjamin told The State earlier this month.

Benjamin said the city tried for months to coordinate with state officials before going forward with the grant application.