Too many projects aimed at benefiting Aiken have essentially gone dormant because of a lack of consistent oversight.
But that should change with the hiring of Glenn Parker as the new Capital Projects Sales Tax manager, a position created by Aiken City Council to oversee such projects as the building of the new Senior-Youth facility at Eustis Park and instituting erosion control and drainage projects in Hitchcock Woods.
Previously, this work was being performed by the City’s engineering and public works department, but too many projects have seemingly becoming secondary or shuffled to the back of the list.
One of the most positive signs is that Parker, in an interview with the Aiken Standard, said “everything is on the table” as far as his new role and getting feedback from the community.
“One of the ways this position was approved,” Parker said, “is that City Council has the right to work with me directly and they wanted that because we’re looking at the big picture. So I’ll be sitting down with Council, as well as having public meetings wherever we can.”
The completion of these large-scale projects will be benefited and expedited by having one individual dedicated to ensuring they come to completion.
Interim City Manager Roger LeDuc described these projects as essentially consisting of three phases, but the first phase – one that’s largely conceptual – is typically the most vital.
“Most of what we’re doing right now (with these projects) is the first phase and that’s why the person we hired is so critical,” LeDuc said. “We believe Glenn is just the perfect individual because he will not need to have a lot of background information because he is very familiar with the projects, our citizens and what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Aiken City Councilmember Lessie Price also praised Parker, and noted the importance of having one person overseeing these initiatives.
“We’re behind in terms of getting a number of these projects moving, and it’s important to have someone who is totally dedicated to capital projects so that they can help with the planning, organization and the implementation, as well as providing some direction to get these projects moving along pretty quickly,” Price said. “The public is entitled to see some action with what they voted for with the capital projects plan.”
These projects were approved by voters through a referendum, and it is imperative that they be completed in a timely manner.
Currently, there are six Capital Sales Projects Tax Round II initiatives that need to be completed, which include a connector road to the Aiken Mall, Whiskey Road improvements, greenway and open space acquisitions, installation of bike paths, use of the purchased landfill and the construction of a Northside recreation center.
Those projects, which total roughly $8 million, have seemingly stalled for a number of reasons, including lengthy discussions of how to start the projects and finding appropriate locations for them.
Parker’s new role will be to move these projects forward in an efficient way, and with his background as former Parks and Rec director, the City should be confident that he will get the job done.