A group of Rock Hill neighbors is upset that none of the $161 million generated from the county's plans for the next "Pennies for Progress" program will address problems with their streets.
Residents of the South Central and Flint Hill neighborhoods say their streets have been overlooked by local government for years. They asked the York County Council at its Monday meeting in York to consider adding some of their streets to the list of projects for the 2011 Pennies program. The plans will need the approval of York County voters in June.
Nathaniel Jaggers, representing the South Central and Flint Hill neighborhood associations, said their streets suffer from poor storm water drainage, inadequate curbs and gutters and safety problems.
Melvin Poole, president of the Rock Hill branch of the NAACP, said the south Rock Hill neighborhoods have been overlooked for 14 years and asked the council not to overlook them for another seven.
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"It's never too late to do the right thing," Poole said at Monday's public hearing.
A special sales tax commission made up of volunteers representing the communities across York County selected the list of projects included in the 2011 Pennies program. Input from citizens, municipalities, school districts and other community leaders helped the commission decide which projects to include.
The County Council can vote to accept the Pennies list as is or reject it all together, but it cannot make changes to the list.
Councilman Roy Blake asked the council to defer giving the 2011 Pennies list the second of the three readings required to pass it on to voters until the commission can be reassembled to consider the neighbors' concerns.
"These citizens think the Pennies commission has not given all citizens a chance to voice their concerns," Blake said, questioning whether the commission could have held more meetings in Rock Hill.
Blake challenged the idea that the roads wouldn't fit into the Pennies program, arguing that such improvements would increase safety and serve the purpose of encouraging economic development.
But with no support from the council, Blake's motion failed.
"If we as a county don't accept this, we're not going to have anything done," Motz said, adding that looking closely at the residential streets in all the municipalities would likely reveal the same needs.
The problem, Motz said, is the state isn't maintaining its own roads.
Each County Council district has C-funds that can be applied toward maintenance and improvement projects. In District 4, Blake has allocated C-funds to putting sidewalks along Finley Road. But they aren't enough, Blake said.
"C-funds, we're talking about thousands of dollars. Pennies (for Progress) is millions of dollars," Blake said.
"Their concerns are very valid," said Phil Leazer, who manages Pennies for Progress. "They have storm water issues throughout their neighborhoods they've been fighting to correct for 10 years."
The problem is, Pennies tackles major highway-widening projects to improve traffic and safety, but it can't go toward maintenance issues, Leazer said.
For that, the county could implement a transportation tax or lobby the state to increase the gas tax, he said.