EDITORIAL: Welcome people to the city here
We’re not really sure the City of Clinton needs a welcome center. But, if we just have to have one, have it here.
The city conducted a forum last night (Dec. 5) to assess Welcome Center interest. We can’t report if there’s a proposed location. We suggest, however, that The Clinton Museum become re-activated, and “welcoming” activities take place in this building.
That may not sit well with some, but there is a reason for our proposal. Putting it almost anywhere else, takes property off the tax books. Clinton already has tons of off-the-tax-books property - Presbyterian College, Thornwell Home for Children, Whitten Center, all the churches and the churches’ parking lots, properties that the City controls and is re-developing, The Depot, the MS Bailey Municipal Center which contains the District 56 office, PC School of Pharmacy and its parking lots, railroad tracks, and parks.
The problem would be more acute if we were the county seat. Laurens has two off-the-tax-books courthouses within its city limits, plus all the same kind of stuff that Clinton can’t tax. No one likes property taxes, but for Clinton to have services, it’s taxes or electric bills - pick your poison.
What we don’t have to do is take more property off the tax books. The DE Tribble Building, for instance. The City has a grant of nearly $100,000 to continue stabilizing it - this might be a place the City is looking at for a Welcome Center. But the City needs to re-hab this building, market it, and sell it. There are some public-private partnerships at work, but same goes for two East Main Street properties, one West Main Street property, and a building next to McDonald’s that are in various states of renovation (or disrepair, depending on your point of view). The City has had to become a developer, because nobody else has stepped forward to take this role in a big way. If we don’t invest in ourselves, who’s going to want to invest in us.
We get that. We support that - limited. One City-sponsored re-hab has a new bake shop in it, and the interior is lovely. A former photo studio is an investments firm, combining new function with old charm. These are successes, we welcome more investments like these.
Meanwhile, The Clinton Museum is not operating, and it more than likely cannot be sold - so, put it to work.
Get the museum functioning (inventory items, audit the books, whatever needs to be finished) and re-activate it. Develop the second floor for more display space, and use the spacious first floor, front room to tell people what is here for them to do. Parking is an issue - solve it. Staffing could be an issue - PC interns is a first-comes-to-mind potential solution. Use what we already have, to accomplish what we need to get done (if, we need it).
The Laurens County Chamber of Commerce has a wonderful welcome center in its front lobby - but it’s “off the beaten track.” In The Museum, the Clinton Welcome Center would be on well-traveled Hwy 72. If we can keep people who travel from Calhoun Falls to Charlotte off the by-pass, they’ll ride right past it. We hope, they will stop.