Mayor of Charleston and fellow Rotarian John Tecklenburg spoke to his club this month in what has become an annual tradition of his the State of our City address. After being introduced by his son, Joseph, also a Rotarian, he started with “Resilient” and “Hopeful” to describe the current state of the city. His focus right now is to maintain safety during the continuing Covid pandemic and to focus on the distribution of vaccines. This coming year he has 8 focal points to touch on:
- Drainage improvements– this continues all across the city in anticipation of sea-level rise.
- Create more affordable housing– as residential property values rise, this only becomes more important.
- Public Safety– Community policing and improving fire department resources.
- Quality of life– enhancing parks and reopening cultural events.
- Economic Development- Our economy has been thriving up until Covid-19 so we need to focus on recovery, especially focusing on technology base business to decrease reliance on hospitality.
- Racial Equity– We have formed a Racial Equity Commission to explore actions we can take to make Charleston a more fair and just city.
- Climate Action Plan– Developing plan this year, being on front line of climate changes dealing with rising sea level.
- Maintain Financial Strength by refinancing bonds and maintaining our AAA credit rating.
Mayor Tecklenburg then focused on what he considered the five “Burroughs” of Charleston- John’s Island, James Island, West Ashley, The Peninsula and Daniel Island.
Last year we approved 12 acres to expand park on Johns Island, as well as making a number of purchases for affordable housing and a new (second) fire station. The 526 extension is now an active project.
On James Island, in the coming year, the city will acquire more greenbelt property for drainage improvements. Also leading an effort to improve the water quality going into Ellis Creek.
For West Ashley, we have the grant approved to create a dedicated bike connection to the peninsula. We are nearing completion of Fire Station 11 on Savannah Hwy and will be signing a contract to move to construction of a new park south of Charlestowne Landing as well as improvements to Ackerman Park.
On the Peninsula, Phase I of the Low Battery sea wall is nearing completion and Phase II will start soon after. The Deep Tunnel system is underway to improve drainage and has a total of 5 phases. We opened a warming shelter, renovated Moultrie Playground, reopened MLK pool with a permanent cover for year-round use. Grace Homes affordable homes opened and we are moving forward on the Low Line linear Park. Cannon Street fire station is being renovated as well as planned renovations of Huger street fire station. Drainage improvements include a King and Huger street drainage pump station, drainage improvements to the Medical District and the cleanout of the original arched sewer system that is under the city to utilize as part of the stormwater system.
On Daniel Island, the Tennis Center will be renovated (with the generosity of the Navarro family) as well as the completion of a new Recreation Center.
The City is resilient, has seen all sorts of challenges over the centuries including Covid and he is very hopeful and excited about the state of the City.