Controversy over ARPA funds among Mt. Pleasant leaders

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MT. PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – Town of Mt. Pleasant leaders are working to figure out the best use for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. The town is receiving $7.5 million dollars.

Some say buying land in the northern part of town for economic development is best, while others believe the money should be used for other projects.

The clock is ticking on this decision as the town is under contract to purchase a 30-acre plot of land off Faison Road in the Carolina Park area. The contract is set to close in November. The town would use $6.5 million of ARPA funds to purchase the land.

Councilmember Gary Santos is all for economic development in North Mt. Pleasant and says the residents deserve it.

“The idea is to find the right thing that fits the community up there. Pickleball courts, a recreation center, we talked about a YMCA up there, another senior center,” said Santos.

These ideas are just a few that have been discussed. A cultural arts center or an e-sports arena have also been mentioned.

Mt. Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie says while he agrees economic development would be a benefit for north Mt. Pleasant, there are other projects he says need to get done first.

“What I think is, that we should use this money for shovel-ready improvements for traffic, for drainage. Things that rescue plan money is meant to be spent for,” said Mayor Haynie.

Plans for economic developments, especially on a larger scale, take years. That’s a concern the Mayor has.

“I’m not against any of the things that were mentioned. There’s no feasibility studies, there’s no sight analysis, there’s no anything,” explained the Mayor. “We should fix traffic and we should fix drainage and fix the things that we must do, while we plan for the things we would like to do.”

At Tuesday’s town council meeting, some residents shared concerns over a new build in Carolina Park.

“My hope is that the residents of Carolina Park will have some say in what that land would be used for,” mentioned one resident.

“There’s a lot of rumor, a lot of speculation running around right now because there is no transparency,” said another.

Councilmember Gary Santos says after Tuesday’s meeting when Mayor Haynie and Councilman Howard Chapman voted that the funds should not be used to purchase the plot of land, he’s been getting phone calls from people who want more options in north Mt. Pleasant.

“They clearly thought that this was going to be going up to their part of town.”

The results of the upcoming municipal election could play into the decision of exactly what the ARPA funds will be used for.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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