My tenure thus far as your councilman has been an honor, and I have enjoyed getting to know you and more about our community’s needs. I was elected with a long list of what I wanted to accomplish on behalf of District 3 and our city. Now that I have nearly completed a term as your Councilman, I come to you with an update on these accomplishments.
While our city has been challenged by modifications required for the unprecedented pandemic, we continue to overcome obstacles, while making improvements that have long been needed for our growing city. Basic services are the foundation of our quality of life, and I continue to strive to improve their seamless delivery, and repair, maintain, and improve our infrastructure. I am proud of the work that I have helped to accomplish so far, but there is much more to be done.
To keep our community safe and secure, I have advocated for over $5 million for sustainable recruitment and retention efforts for both our Columbia Police and Fire Departments. From these efforts, the Columbia City Police Department has hired several emergency services personnel and peace patrol officers to keep a constant presence in our neighborhoods. Our Peace Officers will schedule security checks and conduct informative front porch “roll calls” for you personally and for neighborhood gatherings. If you would like to host, please contact me.
Sanitation pickup schedules are now running smoothly as we have recovered from the pandemic-related personnel shortage. If your pickup doesn’t occur in a timely manner, please reach out to me or the city’s customer service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by phone at 803-545-3300 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
I have made significant progress on the Shandon storm drainage improvements project involving our city partners. This project will stop the significant floods at several critical intersections in the Shandon neighborhood by upgrading two trunklines of storm drainage pipes. The latest status update from Dana R. Higgins, PE, LEED AP, our Director of Engineering with Columbia Water, states that the bulk of the design phase for the West trunkline portion of the project is complete. Next is easement acquisition with the construction start date in 13 to 18 months. The East trunkline portion is over 70% designed and will follow the construction of the West trunkline. This project is being funded through the City’s Stormwater Bond Program and will cost approximately $21 Million. Please see the project map below.
Together with Columbia Water, I have obtained $38.8 million in funding for Rosewood Area Water System improvements. This project will install approximately 115,500 feet of new water lines in the Rosewood and Hollywood-Rosehill areas, greatly improving the delivery of water – eliminating the “Rosewood tea” which has been a notorious description of the water from these old pipes. This project will be divided into three phases, each costing between $11.5 to $13.8 million, totaling $38.8 million. Please see the project map below.
Over the past year, many areas of our streets were repaired in a concerted effort by both our city and state. These are ongoing, as the geographic placement and geological features of our city expedite the formation of new potholes. Thank you to all who reported pothole locations, often with photos and address locations, as your efforts have very evidently improved our ability to improve our streets. Please continue this!
In addition to street repair, the Blossom Street bridge, from Huger to Gadsden Street, is being replaced. The design is finished, and right-of-way acquisition is happening now. Utility coordination is ongoing, and construction will begin in the summer of 2024.
I advocated and obtained votes for Owens Field Sports field upgrades for $1.8M, improvements that will encourage families’ involvement in healthy activities for generations.
Working with Richland County, state legislators, and City Council, the funding in the amount of $22M and donated land needed for the long-anticipated masterplan Columbia Gateway Project has been secured. We now have what is needed to move forward with what will be that pinnacle gem of our city, opening opportunities for river access and all the enjoyable benefits that will follow. I am especially proud of this accomplishment!
The effort to establish Quiet Zones in Columbia, including our 14 railway crossings from Gadsden to Beltline, is underway and moving forward, due to successful collaboration over the last three years. This has been under my direction, with the City Council and staff working alongside the Quiet Zone Committee, FRA, SCDOT, Norfolk Southern & CSX.
A future improvement for our District III cyclists and walkers is the South Main Streetscape Project. Funding and collaboration issues have been managed so that work on the four-block section of South Main Street from Pendleton to Blossom Streets will start this spring. The $23 million project will reduce the current five lanes to two, widening sidewalks and adding bicycle lanes to both sides of the roadway. This project is located on a connecting route from the South Main Corridor to the South Carolina State House and is a heavily utilized pedestrian route to the USC campus.
Rep. Seth Rose and I have been working very hard on traffic calming projects in the heart of District 3. Traffic safety and pedestrian friendly construction will start in Five Points in the Spring and we are already looking at options for Devine Street. Phase 2 of the Millwood Avenue DOT program is still forthcoming. But we have also focused on traffic calming in our neighborhoods with added traffic features like the very much needed pedestrian crossing and stoplight installed on Devine Street by Backstreets Grill, Il Giorgione, and Synovus Bank. Additionally, four-way stop signs are being installed at the intersection of Duncan and Ott.
In August, I voted to approve a $21 million construction contract budget to refurbish Finlay Park, transforming the park back into what was once a major attraction for the city. Approved renovations will include a boulder wall, a garden, water features, and event space.
I am very proud that the opening of the Greene Street bridge last year completed Phase 2 of the Innovista-Greene Street project, which is providing connectivity and ease of movement to enable economic development opportunities in the Vista and Greene Street corridors. This Richland County Penny Tax Project will enable economic development opportunities along this corridor.
My involvement on many committees and task forces is benefitting you and all of the citizens of Columbia and the Midlands. I had the honor of being elected the Chairman of the Central Midlands Council of Governments and am proud of the work in the areas of Aging, Transportation, Workforce Development and Economic Development that our COG team is doing for the residents of Richland, Lexington, Fairfield
and Newberry Counties. My membership on the COMET board for public transportation improvements comes at a time at a time when our economy is growing with large employer announcements, and we must be sure to continue to bring our regional transportation system to the most effective operation it can be to get our workforce to great paying jobs. As a member of the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness, I have been advocating for services and housing for our unsheltered population. My work with my colleagues on the Arts, Historic & Philanthropy committee as chair, as well as on the Economic Development & Infrastructure and Community Development committees has been very positive.
It is a privilege to serve as your Councilman. My aim is to ensure planned projects and those I have worked to get underway and are finished. I ask for the honor of your vote in November to help make sure this work continues! I believe Columbia has growth potential which must be planned for and implemented with foresight and knowledge of our rich history and strong community ties. I have had many accomplishments over the past 3 ½ years, but there is much more work to be done! My sleeves are rolled up. I am just getting started. I look forward to continuing to earn your vote to serve you! I thank you, all our City Council, Richland County and State Legislative colleagues as we continue to work together and collaborate for you and our great city.
Please stay in touch, message me, and follow my social media accounts on both Facebook and Instagram for frequent updates and events:
Help keep the work moving and updates published by donating at votewillbrennan.com. Every little bit helps, and I thank you for your consideration.
Your District III Councilman,