2017 State of the Town Address
Good evening, I’m Mayor Steve MacDougall. Welcome to the State of the Town Address, a synopsis of our Town’s accomplishments in 2016 and an outline of 2017’s goals. I want to take time to recap the headway we made last year and address projects and concerns Council and I will target this year and beyond. First, it is a continued privilege and honor to be your Mayor and I look forward to continuing to serve you and leading the Town of Lexington.
At this time I would like to acknowledge my fellow Council members – Mayor Pro-Tem Hazel Livingston, Council Member Kathy Maness, Council Member Ted Stambolitis, Council Member Todd Carnes, Council Member Ron Williams and Council Member Steve Baker; along with all of our staff for their dedication to the Town. These men and women are the backbone of this outstanding community. I look forward to seeing what we achieve together in 2017.
As we prepare to spring forward, let’s take a moment to highlight a few of the primary accomplishments from this past year: 2016 was another notable year of triumph for the Town of Lexington.
First and foremost, we opened our Icehouse Amphitheater on schedule this past October, to an overwhelming response from the community. We hosted our first FREE concert, where The Root Doctors performed to a standing room crowd of 1,500 people at our newly minted “Downtown Jams”. Additionally, we utilized the facility for our Snowball Festival’s Movies in the Park and have collaborated with community organizations such as the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce and Lexington County Blowfish for successful events that included Lexington Beerfest and The Lexington County Chili Cook- respectfully. The Icehouse Amphitheater also hosted a concert with the USO during the Christmas Holidays,for soldiers unable to return home during a training break at Fort Jackson. We look forward to hosting more events at the facility, including our Lexington Live spring concert series, and showcasing our wonderful downtown to residents and visitors alike! Learn more at www.icehouseamphitheater.com.
The Police Department works daily to ensure the safety of our community. In 2016, they were awarded a Body Camera Grant. The grant provided funding for all uniformed officers to carry a body worn camera while on duty. The department also received a Traffic Safety Grant, funding two officers and their equipment needed for a three-year time frame. Additionally, the Police Department received the Security Industry Alarm Award, for a reduction of business and residential
alarms by over 40% in a six-year time frame. Notably, our Police Department was awarded, for the second straight year, Agency of the Year for DUI enforcement and DUI citizen education. As we all know, safe communities translate into economic growth and Lexington is no exception. The Town of Lexington is the place where citizens want to live, work, play and learn; which continues to be crystal clear as we experience banner annexations. In 2016, we had 16 annexations, encompassing 325 acres of property. The Town has seen substantial growth and now encompasses 10.69 total square miles, up from 6.37 in the year 2000. Additionally, the Town saw an 17.7% increase in the past three years, watching the number of businesses boom from 3,000 to 3,600. Furthermore, we had a 25% increase in gross sales during the same time frame, catapulting from $1.5 billion to $1.9 billion.
As the Town continues to grow, we know our number one priority is to alleviate traffic woes. This past year, the Town of Lexington launched our Adaptive Computerized Signalization System. Currently, we have 12 signals that are “live”, meaning they have been converted over to “real time” control in place of “analog rotation” control.
The affected intersections include:
- Main St @ Church St & Lake Dr
- W. Main St @ Park Rd & Old Chapin Rd
- Columbia Ave @ Butler St
- US 378 (Sunset Blvd.) at the following intersections:
Corley Mill Road Leaphart Road
Cromer Road Lott Court
I-20 Westbound Ramp Northside Boulevard
I-20 Eastbound Ramp
Work continues on completing the last seven signals for Phase I, as the contractor is installing fiber communications between each signal and up fitting the intersections with mast arms. The completed project will include 35 total signals.
This high tech traffic management system will help alleviate traffic congestion by monitoring and synchronizing traffic signals to balance traffic flow in “real time” conditions and “link” all lights within the Town limits. For this project, the Town received funding from the Central Midlands Council of Governments with
Columbia Area Transportation Study (COATS) Share Funding and from the County of Lexington, for a total of $5.1 million dollars. This system will help place Lexington at the forefront of traffic management through the latest, innovative computer technology. We will be the first municipality in the state to implement this new technology at all traffic signal intersections in town. This is just another way we are being proactive and preparing for the anticipated growth we project for our future.
The Town has also been proactive with flood recovery. This past fall, we received a USDA Grant, totaling $720,000 dollars. The funds were used to clean up the areas around Old Mill Pond Dam and Gibson Pond Dam. The goal of the cleanup was to remove debris and downed trees along with rock and sediment to prevent reverse flooding that could have occurred with any rain event over 3 inches.
Additionally, after the cleanup, the Twelve Mile Creek was diverted back to its original stream bed and through the three box culvert under Highway 1 to reduce the possible flooding of the roadway. The Town is continuing to work with FEMA to rebuild the Old Mill Dam and bring the pond back to full capacity. We are hopeful FEMA will see the plans we had and the work that was underway for the scenic walking trail that encircled the pond, and agree with us on the status for public use, flood control for Federal Highway 1, and the iconic status of the Old Mill Pond.
We know the importance of environmental quality of life, especially for our water and sewer customers. This is why we broke ground on expanding our Prescott Glen Pump Station. Approximately 2.5 Miles of a 12″ and 18″ sewer force main and 1/2 mile of 20″ gravity line that will be installed from Prescott Glen running along Barr Rd. to Hendrix St. and then turning onto Chariot St. and ultimately crossing U.S. 1 and Highway 378. The new pump station will provide an additional seven years of growth, while the line will have substantial capacity for additional future growth in the area.
The Town’s key to success is fiscal responsibility which has led to continued national recognition. The Finance Department recently was awarded the Governmental Finance Officers Association Comprehensive Annual Finance Report Award for the 18th straight year and for the seventh straight year, the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. Through our dedicated Finance Department staff, the Town remains rock-solid and financially sound. It should be noted the Town’s outstanding credit rating and strong financial position provide access to the lowest interest rates for long-term capital projects, thereby reducing the cost of services and minimizing taxes for our citizens.
The Town of Lexington is staying very mindful of how we invest your tax dollars.
In doing so, we knew the only way to secure additional transportation project funds was through the implementation of the 2% Hospitality Tax. These funds will be used to address three major projects on State and Federally owned roads, the first being the downtown improvements through the one-way pair system.
These projects amplify how our proactive, progressive vision and planning is continuing to create a remarkable, vibrant and livable community, not only for today, but for future generations… our children and our grandchildren.
As you can see, we’ve had some amazing advancements this past year but there’s always more work that can and will be done. Here are a few of the ambitious issues we will focus in on into 2017 and beyond:
Council, staff and I are dedicated to alleviating traffic congestion. As previously mentioned, the Town will focus on Downtown Improvements, which includes the transition to one-way pairs along Lake Dr. and Church Street. Design plans are in the final review stages at SCDOT and the project is expected to go to bid in the next 30-60 days, with completion this fall.
By pairing the Lake Dr. and Church St. corridors, the capacity of this direction is doubled. The additional capacity allows significant increase in the amount of green light time that is allotted to the Main Street signals. Furthermore, the left turn signal phase would be eliminated from South Lake Drive onto East Main St. further increasing the green time available. Finally, the left turn prohibitions in the downtown area would be eliminated. In addition to this project, the Town will construct a 250 space parking lot along South Church St. to serve the Lexington Municipal Complex, Palmetto Collegiate Institute, Virginia Hylton Park and the Icehouse Amphitheater.
Also as part of the 2% Hospitality Tax, the Town will tackle traffic woes at Ginny Lane along with making improvements at I-20 and Sunset Blvd. Both projects are part of a long term plan to address traffic and safety issues in this area and are slated to begin construction later this year to minimize the burden of competing with school traffic.
A traffic study revealed that due to heavy right turn movement, widening along Ginny Lane, from Sunset Blvd. to Saluda Pointe Dr., would be required to support a dual right turn lane in order to maximize efficiencies. Simultaneously, the lane configurations are being changed to better accommodate actual traffic movements along this short corridor. The design will address traffic volume, access management and existing drainage issues.
I-20 Westbound Ramp Improvements include proposed modifications to the traffic patterns in order to reduce or eliminate travelers exiting the ramp and crossing multiple lanes of traffic in attempt to make a left turn at Ginny Lane. The improvements call for allowing motorists to make a right turn at the Westbound ramp signal and proceed into the left turn lane for Ginny Lane. These two projects are part of the overall scope for the Corley Mill @Sunset Blvd. Gateway Improvements. An announcement regarding the full project will be unveiled in the forthcoming months.
Along with executing these transportation projects, the town will continue to concentrate our efforts on our utility infrastructure through our CIP’s or Capital Improvement Projects.
The Cromer Road Pump Station is being designed to increase the wastewater pumping capacity to 12.5million gallon as day, flowing to the Joint Wastewater Treatment Plant on the Congaree River. The project is slated to begin this year and will take 12 months to complete construction. When finished future plans include a 30 inch parallel line to also tie into the joint facility.
The Town is also making improvements to the East Main St. water line, a line that has been in the ground since 1925, these improvements include sidewalk replacement on East Main St. along the right side of the road, extending to the Old Mill. This project is already out to bid. Once the contract is awarded, we anticipate completion by the end of this year.
Additionally, we will be working on a sewer rehab project, consisting of relining old sewer mains and sealing manholes to prevent infiltration from heavy rain events into the sewer system. By using this sealing method, the Town will save over $1 million dollars by not having to dig up streets and associated construction cost.
Another capital improvement project will be the construction of a new Town maintenance facility. This project will house the utilities department staff, along with providing equipment storage for our Parks and Sanitation, Police, Transportation and Utilities Department’s. By having one centralized location, we will be able create additional parking at Town Hall and a secure, protected area for all of our equipment.
Finally, we will continue our beautification efforts with improvements to Virginia Hylton Park. The Town will construct a plan that will focus on providing a face lift to our oldest and most utilized park. Our goal is to preserve the qualities that make Virginia Hylton Park so special, while upgrading its aesthetic for the next generation.
The Town is also working with FEMA and SCDHEC to begin design for a new Gibson Pond Dam. Construction is slated to begin this fall. It is our goal to not only bring back the safety of the dam to our community, but to restore the pond to its natural state, so all citizens can enjoy its beauty.
To feature our fantastic community, we provide ample events and activities throughout the year. The Town, along with the Lexington County Recreation and
Aging Commission, hosts several events including the Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt and Carnival, Movies in the Park, Snowball Festival along with highlighting charitable senior programs such as Meals on Wheels and Project Warmth.
Additionally, our community was honored to host the 2016 Big South Conference Baseball Championship at the Lexington County Stadium. The road to Omaha starts right here in Lexington as last year’s tournament winner went on to win the College World Series. We are fortunate to announce the Big South Conference is returning to Lexington for the 2017 Baseball Championship.
Other events include Special Needs Community Day, Kid’s Day of Lexington, the inaugural season of Lexington’s Live spring concert series, Wine Walk, the Town of Lexington Farmers Market, National Night Out, Downtown Jams and Fall Fest.
In addition to these signature events, the Town is proud to support homegrown efforts, like the Lexington Community Band, Lexington County Blowfish and
Lexington County Museum, providing entertainment for the entire family. We hope to see you around town for these wonderful events!
The Town strives to effectively engage the public through various communication and marketing efforts. The Town is currently upgrading our website and will roll out our new, user friendly and interactive page this summer. Make sure to stay informed with Town news and events through our website, our social media pages of Facebook, Twitter and our community access station on Time Warner Cable, which is airing this State of the Town Address and Council Meeting live.
We are truly amazed by how many projects that have come to fruition since we implemented the Vision Plan less than five years ago. This State of the Town
Address reflects the great work that is being done and how we can lead our community forward respectfully and responsibly. Each employee at the Town of
Lexington has made contributions to the achievements we have seen tonight and I want to thank them all in making our community a place you want to live, work, play and learn. Lexington is my hometown and I am still astonished to see the positive growth and strides we’ve taken through the years.
I wish that all of you have a continued healthy, happy and prosperous 2017. God bless you, your family, our Town, the State of South Carolina and our great nation, the United States of America.