By Stan Welch – The Town of West Pelzer is now officially part of an urban cluster. As a result of the 2010 U.S. Census, West Pelzer has been engulfed, for lack of a better word, by the growing Greenville area. The revelation came at Monday night’s Council meeting, when Tiffany Wedemore, of the Greenville Pickens Area Transportation Study, (GPATS) appeared before the Council to explain what that means.
GPATS is the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) of the Greenville Pickens County area. GPATS is designed to produce both short term and long term planning for the area’s transportation needs.
Wedemore explained that while Anderson County also has an MOP, the Greenville/Pickens area normally receives approximately $16 million a year for projects, while Anderson receives approximately $2.5 million. The funds are federal highway funds that are administered at the state and local levels. She said she would anticipate that the funding will increase since new areas are being taken into the GPATS boundaries.
Mayor Peggy Paxton expressed concern that being such a small town, and the newest member of the group, West Pelzer would see little or no benefit. “I’m just worried that being from Anderson County and all, and with our County delegation being from here, the big guys from Greenville will get all the projects.”
Wedemore explained that each project is graded on a set of criteria that determines need and value. “Over the last two or three years, the Pickens area has had more projects than Greenville because their needs were greater. And when we meet in January, I suspect the policy committee will adjust its membership to include some elected officials from the municipalities involved as well as the county.”
She went on to explain that the Powdersville area is also a part of the GPATS and that Rep. Joshua Putnam is on the policy committee already. She also addressed Paxton’s concern that with Highway 8 already slated to be repaved, West Pelzer might not have any other projects to suggest by saying that the intersection of Highways 8 and 20 looked like it might need some work.
The funds received and disbursed by GPATS do not require matching funds from the entities receiving them so there is no cost to the Town. All that will be required is a letter of support from the council saying that they accept being included. As Councilman Robert Alexander said, “It looks like a no lose situation. If it doesn’t cost us anything, I think it’s a good idea.”