ROCK HILL — Rock Hill has ramped up its enforcement on yards with tall grass, junked cars and homes with run-down appearances in neighborhoods around Winthrop University.
The stricter enforcement is a key step to fulfill the city and the universitys College Town Action Plan, Winthrop President Anthony DiGiorgio said during Wednesdays meeting of the universitys Board of Trustees Executive Committee.
We want to have good relations, and we do have good relations, he said. Over time, however, the properties become pretty unkempt and they become unsafe, unless someone really monitors that.
Affected residents received a letter last month notifying them of the citys Pro-Active Code Enforcement (PACE) project which started in 2005 to reduce the number of blighted homes and yards in the city.
The College Town Action Plan committee requested the stricter enforcement which will involve city workers visiting neighborhoods. Normal city enforcement is complaint-driven and not as proactive as it will be in targeted neighborhoods near Winthrop, said city spokeswoman Katie Quinn.
After verbal and written warnings, homeowners or tenants with unkempt yards or houses can be issued a citation and summoned to Rock Hills Environmental Court and be fined up to $1,000.
The citys Textile Corridor between downtown and Winthrop, as well as areas along Charlotte Avenue, have been pegged as space for development and improvements under the College Town Action Plan.
As development increases, DiGiorgio said, attention to the neighborhoods is an important dimension of that.
Quinn said residents with problem yards and homes will be given at least four to six weeks to start improvements.
Winthrop board members shared positive feelings on Wednesday about the possibility of a new, active-senior citizen residence in Rock Hill with ties to Winthrop.
Rock Hill and Winthrop split the cost of $75,000 for Campus Continuum a consultant firm to complete market research on an active-adult residence.
The results of that study will be ready within the next month.
The university has engaged senior residents living at Sun City Carolina Lakes in Lancaster County, DiGiorgio said, by sending a newsletter there with campus news and events.
Retired professionals connecting with Winthrop is important, he said, to the universitys central business: student learning.
DiGiorgio said senior citizen mentors some of whom may choose to live in a future active-adult community provide a tremendous inter-generational learning opportunity for students.
Safer for cyclists, walkers
Rock Hill City Council members also heard an update last week on plans for painted bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly streets between Winthrop and downtown steps Rock Hill officials say are visible components of the College Town Action Plan.
The city has secured $40,000 in federal grant money to enhance bicycle routes in the downtown and campus area.
Bill Meyer, the citys planning and development director, said if the council chooses to, Rock Hill could move forward by using the grant money to paint bicycle sharrows along streets such as Eden Terrace, North Avenue and Ebenezer Road.
Sharrows are stretches where cyclists can use the same traffic lane as cars and are designated by painting arrows on the pavement.
The Rock Hill streets, he said, are wide enough to allow room for actual bike lanes painted on the shoulder of roads.
Rock Hills plan for bicycle corridors connecting downtown and Winthrop could cost up to $300,000 to implement, Meyer said, if the City Council approves all of the work.
Adding or widening existing sidewalks along eight roads such as Wilson and Lucas streets and Charlotte Avenue is estimated to cost more than $1 million, according to city plans.
The city may not be footing the bill alone, Meyer said, but having the plan and knowing estimates of the cost will help Rock Hill acquire more grant money and could increase the likelihood of the state Department of Transportation providing financial assistance.
Anna Douglas 803-329-4068