Water, sewer discussed at city council meeting

By Stephan Drew, Editor



Mark Face reviews the outcome of the temporary shelter set up during the Christmas weekend cold snap. Churches, organizations, and volunteers collected supplies, blankets, food and drinks for those who needed shelter during the sudden and severe drop in temperature. PHOTO BY DAWSON JORDAN

Water system repairs, stormwater drainage and sewage problems were in the forefront at the Darlington City Council meeting on Tuesday, January 10th. Charles Shugart, Director of Darlington Water Dept. reported to council on the ongoing system repairs and upgrades in Wards 1 and 2. The city received $5.265 million in grants and is currently engaged in several projects in that area, including a $1.78 million upgrade and refurbishment project which is 99% complete. Another $1.735 million is being used to modify and refurbish the Allen Street pump station (Allen Street Pump Station Renovation/Farm Street and South Main Street Gravity Sewer Replacement Project). There is also work going on at the Old Florence Gravity Sewer & Allen Street Force Main facility, using $500,000 in grant money.

Shugart told council about a $10 million SCIIP Grant from the South Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority. This grant, if awarded, would provide funds for 8 projects—1 Stormwater project, 1 Water Distribution project, 2 Wastewater treatment projects and 4 Sewer Collection projects. Shugart told council he is anticipating the grant application to be approved. Council member Sheila Baccus asked Shugart, “What are we doing about the big hole that’s coming up in the middle of Third and Avenue B?” “We dug up the other side some months ago and capped that with fill and we plan to do the same with the other side that’s opened up,” Shugart responded. “What time frame are we talking about?” Baccus asked. “In the next 2 weeks, I hope,” Shugart replied.

Council member John Milling addressed Shugart, “Coming down East Broad Street, going towards Hardee’s, there is water on the right-hand side, just standing, wet or dry, rain or no rain, at the corner of South Ervin Street and East Broad.” Shugart responded, “We’ve dug over there a couple of times. We’re going to end up having to dig out that intersection. We’re going to spend $3.5 million on a stormwater project over there.” Shugart went on to say that the Water Dept. was now deciding whether to tear up the entire road or run the system down the side, by the railroad tracks. Council members Elaine Reed and Sheila Baccus asked about other water problems some citizens were having. Shugart told them he would look into them.

Former Mayor Gloria Hines addressed council about a leak being reported at her house. Ms. Hines reported that, during the month of December, on several different occasions, it was reported that she had a leak at her residence. Each time, plumbers came out and could not find a leak. After digging and the adjustment of a valve between the main water line and her house, the leak is no longer detected by the water department. Ms. Hines wondered how the leak could disappear when no repair was done.

Later, Shugart requested that council issue a purchase order for the yearly computer software upgrade to the Sensys system, which monitors water lines, identifies leaks and tabulates water usage and monthly bills. Since the cost has been under $5,000 in the past, it has not been necessary to come before council with this request. This year, however, the cost is $5,110. Council approved the amount.

Alex Gainey, Director of Streets, Sanitation and Stormwater for the City of Darlington, reported that the Christmas tree and all of the holiday decorations around the city have already been taken down and put in storage. He suggested that, when work commences on East Broad and Ervin Street, that it run down by the railroad tracks, instead of tearing up the street. Gainey also stated that he has 4 positions open for employment – 1 CDL (Commercial Driver’s License required) and 3 Labor positions.

Mark Face reported on the success of the recent warming shelter provided the weekend of December 17th and 18th due to temperatures which dropped into the teens. Donations of blankets, snacks and drinks were provided by the community. The S.C. National Guard provided cots and blankets also. Face said he had been asked if the new Crazy Hill Community Center will be a homeless shelter. “It is not going to be a homeless shelter. It is going to be a community center, to help those folks in the community who need help.”

Lee Andrews, Director of Parks and Recreation Dept., informed council about upcoming activities, including basketball games, senior activities, ping pong games, quilting workshops and hip hop exercise classes. He said the Recreation Dept. is in the process of hiring a new Activities Director.

New Darlington Police Chief Jimmy Davis warned of an increase in thefts from vehicles and reported that officers are increasing their activity within the community. “Please tell everyone to remove valuables from their vehicle and lock them,” Davis said. He also reported that there are a few vacancies in the department. “Three people applied and then took jobs elsewhere,” Davis said. When council member Howard Nettles asked if the applicants said it was pay or something else, Davis replied, “No, they did not say.”

In other business, Council approved the 2nd reading of Ordinance 2022-12, which designates the end of Lochend Drive (where Patriot Chevrolet is located) as General/Commercial for zoning purposes. Council also approved the 2nd reading of Ordinance 2022-13, which allows business on Hwy. 52, from the bypass towards Florence, to erect signs of 40 feet in height. They are currently allowed on the bypass but, those on Main Street/Hwy. 52 at the end of the bypass are only allowed to be 24 feet. This would not affect signs from the bypass into town, only those from the bypass going toward Florence.

Council heard the 1st reading of Ordinance 2023-1, which will allow existing lots of 50 ft. width in R6 to rebuild if their home is torn down. The area known as R6 encompasses Farm St., Allen St., Guest St., Bacote St., and Bond St. Currently, the ordinance requires that a lot must be 60 ft. wide in order to build or rebuild. Many lots on these streets are only 50 ft. wide. This ordinance would allow those property owners, whose lots are 50 ft. wide and already surveyed, established and recorded, to rebuild without any difficulty. This would not apply to those lots larger than 60 ft. For larger lots, the 60 ft. rule would apply before they are able to rebuild. The ordinance was approved for a 2nd reading.

The Darlington City Council meets next on Tuesday, February 7th.


Author: Stephan Drew

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