Simpsonville close to starting on downtown project

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New ordinance names project Village Center Form District

By Todd Martin

The Simpsonville City Commission took another step Tuesday toward starting its downtown project.

Mayor Steve Eden reported that the city is close to completing a deal with American Engineers Inc. (AEI).

“We’re in discussion to work with them [AEI] on the downtown project,” the Mayor said during the meeting. “We think it’s realistic that we can be done with the first part of the project by November, breaking ground this spring.

"So it should be pretty soon that we improve on the U.S. 60 corridor through the city.”

Once Eden and the city commission come to terms with AEI, the contract would then have to clear the state since the project has state grant funding.

From there, Eden said the firm was confident that it could finish the planning and designing stage in about 60 days. After that, AEI would hire a contractor to finish the work.

The work, Eden said, would include sidewalks along the south side of U.S. 60 from Old Veechdale Road to Fairview Drive.

“Along with that we’re looking at new storm drains and street lights and moving some of the utilities,” Eden said. “We’ll look at either rerouting the utilities to the back of the property or putting them underground.”

The only hang-up with finishing the first phase of the project could be clearance.

“The state has to clear the contract with AEI, so if that takes a long time it could delay our start,” Eden said. “But if we get started early in enough in the spring or early summer, I think we can get it done.”

With that first phase down, the city would hope to start moving on the rest of the area.

“Phase one is the south side of U.S. 60,” Eden said “After that we have the vacant land and then some existing buildings on the north.”

But that will all be later down the road.

“We figure this is at least a 10-or-15-year project,” Eden said. “It’s hard to know when the other phases will fall into place, that’s just going to depend on the economy.”

The long-range plan sets stricter guidelines for businesses and architecture in the area.

The commission also heard a first reading for an amendment to the zoning regulations that would classify the downtown project area as the Village Center Form District.

This amendment gives the project a name so it can be easily found in the zoning regulations.

The commission was working off a recommendation from Triple S Planning and Zoning.

The amendment will have a second reading at the commission’s next meeting.

Also at the meeting

The commission approved a second reading of an amendment to the budget. The amendment showed a $73,000 increase in the balance carried forward for the city’s general fund and an increase of $29,000 in the city’s sewer revenues.

It also reflects $72,000 in expenses out of the general fund for a drainage project and purchases of a backhoe and lawn mower, and $141,000 in extra expenses out the sewer fund for the Whitney Young project and the Purnell line upgrade.

In all, the amended changes bring the city’s estimated cash balance in the general fund at the end of the fiscal year to $451,000 (from $450,000) and $888,000 in the sewer fund (from $1 million).