City asks residents to help update tourism management plan

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Charleston city planners want toknow what can be done to improve the quality of life for its residents whilestill catering to the many tourists who visit each year.

That's why officials are talking to homeowners Monday nightto find out what needs to be done to balance the needs of both. The two sidesmet with residents in the first floor board room of the Charleston CountySchool District headquarters to start the process of updating the city'stourism management plan, a plan that has been in place since 1998.

It doesn't take long for visitors to fall in love with theelegance and charm of Charleston. Now city leaders want to make sure itspopularity doesn't hurt those who live there.

"Trying to cut down on the traffic.{}Traffic is thenumber one issue for me," said Anne Blessing.{}

She lives on East Bay Street.{}She grew up there. Now,Blessing sees the need to focus on tourism traffic, parking, and more publicrestroom facilities.

"We have people ask if they can use our bathroom allthe time and a lot of times it's families with young children or older people,so we definitely need some bathrooms," said Blessing.{}

"There's a real delicate balance between the residentsand the visitors," said Kitty Robinson, president and CEO of the HistoricCharleston Foundation.{}

She's in charge of the committee supervising the updates tothe city's tourism management plan.{}Robinson says revisions are needed toreflect the increased interest in visitors.

"We're asking the residents first to let us know whatthey think and how they think this city and the downtown should operateefficiently and comfortably for everybody's who's here," said Robinson.

That input will guide city planners on how to proceed withbalancing the needs of Charlestonians like Anne Blessing and their guests.

"It's just going to get more and more crowded.{}Thecity is a great place and everyone wants to come, and we're glad to havethem.{} We just need to figure out how to make it work for the people wholive here," she said.

Robinson says ideas and opinions from Monday night's meetingand future meetings will help the committee make any changes to Charleston'stourism management plan.

Officials hope to have an updated plan by the end of theyear.