UNION — A proposal that would move the residents of the Fairforest Apartments on Main Street to the new apartments being built on the old Union Mill site and turn the Fairforest facility into a dormitory for students attending USC Union is part of a strategic plan presented by Union City Council Woman Vicki Morgan.
During council’s February meeting this past Tuesday, Morgan presented a strategic plan outlining the steps she feels council should take in the present to prepare for the city’s future.
“We’ve got to start somewhere doing things for the future,” Morgan said Thursday during an interview about her proposed strategic plan and the areas she feels the city should be addressing.
One of those areas is housing for students attending USC Union. Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve second reading of an ordinance amending the city zoning ordinance to permit the construction of housing on property on Depot Street. The housing would be for students from outside Union County attending USC Union.
While she voted to approve the rezoning to permit the construction of the proposed facility, Morgan’s strategic plan proposes an option for providing needed housing for additional students.
The plan asks Mayor Harold Thompson to contact the developer of the apartments being built on the site of the old Union Mill to see that if the city or the university can obtain the Fairforest Apartments building on Main Street, could the residents of the Fairforest facility be relocated to the new apartments. This would depend not only on the city or the university obtaining the Fairforest Apartments, but also on the new apartments being covered by the Section 8 program which would allow the Fairforest residents to relocate there.
If this could be done, Morgan said it would be dual project involving relocating the Fairforest residents to the new apartments while turning the Fairforest facility into housing for USC Union students. Morgan points out that, when it was called the Fairforest Hotel, Fairforest Apartments was beautiful and could be beautiful student housing. She said that if it turns out her proposal is feasible, research would have to be done to obtain the necessary funding.
“This would move them (the residents) into new homes,” Morgan said Thursday. “It would help Main Street and it would help USC Union.”
In her presentation to council, Morgan also discussed conversations she’d had with Union County Tourism Commission Director Curtiss Hunter and Veterans Affairs Director Cindy Fore about future uses for the Union Medical Center.
Morgan pointed out that plans are for a new medical center to built on US 176 and that once the Union Medical Center relocates it operations there, the current facility can be put to new uses. She said in discussions with Hunter and Fore, the idea of locating a Veterans Affairs Hospital on the ground floor of the current facility and a VA Nursing Home or VA Retirement Center on the upper floors has been proposed.
“This is something our city council and county council need to work on together,” Morgan said. “This would create jobs and benefit many veterans.”
Morgan said that this was a project that should get under way immediately and she asked Thompson to arrange a joint meeting with Union County Council to discuss it.
“It may be two or three years before the new facility is built and they move out of the current one,” Morgan said Thursday. “But it may be two or three years before we can get the VA to come in here so we need to start now working on this.”
Morgan also called for the city to take steps to get Boyce Street reopened to traffic.
Boyce Street has been closed for over three years and Morgan called for the state to receive a letter from Thompson and the council requesting a beginning and a completion date for work to be done on the street and it reopened. She pointed out that the street has been in the city for many years and that when open to traffic it can cut the time it take EMS ambulances transporting patients to the hospital.
During Morgan’s presentation, Thompson said he’d been in contact with the state and had been told it would be another 10 months before the project could get under way.
“I can’t believe it’s taking nearly four years,” Morgan said Thursday.
Morgan also requested that all city council meetings be filmed.
While she understands that at the present time the city does not have the equipment to film and broadcast council meetings live, they can nevertheless be filmed and made available to the public within a few days or a week. Morgan said this would enable the residents of Union to see what the council is working on. She added that the city could set as one of its goals getting the equipment needed to broadcast its meetings live.
Morgan requested that council direct Melissa Youngblood to post on the city website where residents can submit their thoughts/visions about the city.
She also recommended that forms allowing residents to write out their thoughts/visions about the city for submission to council be printed. These would be available at the City of Union Municipal Building, newspaper offices, and the radio station.
Each council member would also complete one of the forms listing their thoughts/visions.
Morgan said the deadline for submitting these would be March 16 and that she and fellow Council Member Sonja Craig would consolidate them and have them ready to be presented at council’s March meeting.
“During budget sessions council will know what we are working toward,” Morgan said of the information to be gleaned from the thoughts/visions of its members and the public. “This does not mean we will fund it this year or next year or in ten years. (It) just gives us something to work toward, gives us direction.
“These goals will put everyone on the same page,” she said. “As a team we will focus and be in a direction that may generate more ideas and as a team we can accomplish things.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.