It has been brought to my attention the mayor has posted a negative comment on his political web page in regard to the Veterans Park. His opposition to the construction of a green space in honor of America’s Veterans is baffling. I am proud of the fact that we have constructed a park in honor of our military personnel and I am equally proud of the fact the park was constructed at no cost to Irmo.
Here are the undisputed facts:
- I am founder and chairman of the Irmo Arbor Day Committee. This committee has done much to beautify Irmo at no cost to the town. We have landscaped the railroad track; three schools; four churches; the interstate; major roads; and helped with the interchanges. We have placed a tree in every cul-de-sac in New Friarsgate and helped renovate the entrance to Coatsworth. All this has been done with private funds.
- Several years ago a landowner approached me about giving three acres of land to the town. The mayor had personal problems with this landowner and didn’t want the property for free. Thus, the Arbor Day Committee took it and decided to build a veteran’s park.
- Senator Jake Knotts is a friend of mine and a veteran of Vietnam. He heard about the project and wanted to help. He found a 50,000 grant from PRT but the application was due the day he found out about it. The application had to be in that day.
- The public works director and I drew the plan and made the application. The grant was allowed but only if the property was titled in the name of the town.
- The town agreed to accept the deed and the money came in. Arbor Day also spent thousands of dollars and many hours on the Veteran’s Park. It is beautiful.
- The public works department rolled out the sod in the park which had been paid for by the grant and by arbor day funds.
- The mayor approached me and demanded that arbor pay the town 10,000 dollars for the labor expended in rolling out the sod in the park we had designed and given to the town. I refused and thought the demand was absurd.
- One of the mayor’s supporters brought a complaint to the town and a public hearing took place as the mayor was wanting to punish the public works director for working on the Veterans Park. The complaint was flatly rejected by council after the absurdity of the matter was demonstrated in public.
- The mayor’s allies asked Chip Huggins to get involved and the mayor and his ally met with the Attorney General and me. Chip Huggins was present as was the public works director. After seeing the facts the Assistant Attorney General apologized to me and the public works director and said the arbor day group should be given a medal. Mr Huggins also apologized and agreed we had done something nice for the town.Everything was found to have been done in accordance with the law.
- By the way, Mr. Huggins just presented Paul Younginer and the Arbor Day Committee a house recognition for all the good works done by Arbor Day.
- The mayor opposed not only the Veteran’s Park but also the Community Park. He blocked the Community Park for an extended period and complained to the ethics committee about the Community Park. This complaint was also unfounded.
- The Arbor Day Committee now is being offered ten acres of land behind the Irmo library. We would like to make this area a green space to be used in conjunction with the library. The mayor opposes this project as well.
- Paul Younginer serves on our Arbor Day Committee and has done so for years. His help has been unselfish and invaluable.
- Parks and beautification are essential to this community if we are to fight decay. It is incredibly frustrating for a group like ours to be accused of wrongdoing and to be fought against when all we have done is positive.
- It is impossible for arbor day to continue if the present mayor remains. Quite frankly, its just not worth it. For the mayor to complain about the Veterans Park on his web site when he knows nothing was done wrong is an insult to the many fine people who have given countless hours to the betterment of our community.