Park Circle neighbors rally against rail plan

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A state backed rail plan is causing quite the commotion in one North Charleston community.

Tuesday dozens of concerned citizens in the Park Circle and Olde North Charleston neighborhoods met with Mayor Keith Summey to learn more about his legal fight to derail the line.

Summey says his fight is a battle of honor and respect saying he believes the State Ports Authority and the legislature has gone back on its word.

And he and dozens of concerned citizens say they are ready to fight back.

It was standing room only inside the Olde North Charleston neighborhood Council meeting, Tuesday as Summey and City Councilman Kurt Taylor rallied their troops.

"Where have we come in this county when you have two government entities not just shake hands, but we signed documents in agreement," Summey told the crowd. "Then one comes up to ya and says things change."

The mayor says in 2002 the city reached an agreement with the state on how to use the land on the former navy base.{}{}

According to Summey, a clause in that Memorandum of understanding stated if a rail line was to be brought in it would come from the southern end of the base.

When the Port Authority chose to locate a new shipping facility in North Charleston - the city prepared - buying land on the southern end and setting aside land for a port access road to keep freight traffic away from neighborhoods.

{}But Summey says the latest plans from the state, announced late last year, break that agreement.

"They are reputing on an agreement that we all entered into in good faith eight years ago that said how we would divide the port and how it would operate," Councilman Kurt Taylor said.{} "Now with the simple words things change they decided they can simply walk away from that."

The state backed rail plan would bring the rail in from the north - causing a host of problems for the newly developed park circle area.

"You're going to see the number of trains passing in the back of this neighborhood and down north Rhett and the number of cars probably triple," Summey said.{}

A bleak reality many people that live and work in the neighborhood say would decimate park circles progress.

Jerry Ragenburgen moved to the area 18 months ago after helping development properties along East Montague Avenue.

"I think economically people have a tendency to not build or not move into and not re-develop the area as they have been in the last couple of years," He said.{}{} "It will be extremely detrimental."

Andrew Crawford moved to Park Circle two years ago saying he was drawn in by the sense of community there.

"You can't go back on your word when so many people have committed so much to the area."

And with the battle line clearly drawn and Summey says he's not backing down without a fight.{}

"When you are fighting for the quality of life for you, your family and your citizens, then it is something you are going to fight for," he said.{} "It's like the old saying you have to stand for something or you will fall to anything.{} We are not falling for this rail plan. "

{}Those against the plan are also taking their fight to the Internet - setting up several Facebook pages where citizens can go to spread the message and learn more about the plan.

Both mayor Summey and Councilman Taylor are also recommending neighbors contact their state legislators to help resolve the conflict.

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