Is Runyan taking a responsible stand, or avoiding taking a position?

I can’t decide which. See what you think. I just got this from Cameron Runyan, the only candidate so far for the at-large position on Columbia City Council that Daniel Rickenmann is vacating:

The debate over the proposed Capital City Stadium sale reflects the need for a much larger discussion about the future of our city. We have an opportunity to use the energy around the current debate to create an enforceable vision for a clean, safe, vibrant economic engine for our citizens and a model for progressive and sustainable development. Only by working together can we make that happen.

This is an emotional issue. As such, I encourage council, community leaders and engaged citizens to take a step back, come together and work toward building a comprehensive plan for our corridors – including the Assembly Street corridor. I believe the sale of the Assembly Street property must be held until this plan is created.

It won’t be easy. If it were easy, it would have been done already. But it is necessary. It is necessary for the future of Assembly Street and for the future of our great city. If we want to have good urban growth, we need great planning.

From Rosewood Avenue to the university, the Assembly Street corridor is primed for growth. So it is imperative that we create a thorough plan for development that embraces our city’s vision for the future.

This plan must be a community effort that reflects the various concerns of all of Columbia.

This plan must be a comprehensive plan that focuses on maximizing economic growth, protecting neighborhood integrity and preserving, enhancing and embracing the natural environment.

This plan must be a transformative plan that addresses the antiquated zoning laws that have caused confusion and allowed for unacceptable permits for things like a porn shop on Devine Street.

I’ve spoken with business leaders, environmental leaders and community leaders. To a person they agree the city needs better planning for urban growth and we need it now.

I am working to bring together other stakeholders, experts and leaders to develop a plan. As a member of council, I will continue to play a very active role in these discussions and I will do so until we have a strong plan that will benefit our city for generations to come.

Comprehensive strategies sound good, but this also seems a convenient way to avoid a decision before the April election.

But if Cameron’s dodging this, he has my sympathy to an extent. I remain torn about it. I’d be happy to have the convenience of a Walmart downtown, but I’m sympathetic to the businesses’ and neighbors’ concerns…

9 thoughts on “Is Runyan taking a responsible stand, or avoiding taking a position?

  1. Mark Stewart

    I like his tie-in to the Devine Street controversy. Is the area around Ft. Jackson Blvd. not already one of the city’s worst physical spaces?

    It is in my book.

    Current zoning is already strong in Columbia – and far too reactive to neighborhood activism (or simple blanket NIMBYISM, in the eyes of others). The problems lie elsewhere.

    It’s so old to hear people believing in the idea that governmental control will solve societal issues – or even placate the majority. It can’t. When a society is willing to accept a trashy area it can hardly quibble about the specific trash that develops in that area.

    If government, and society, isn’t willing to support good development than it will be condemned to dealing with petty problems and the perpetuation of existing conditions. That’s such an old story around here. People need to stop protecting the present and instead start defining the future. That means change as much as improvement. In physical spaces, maintenance of the status quo is most often akin to malaise and decay.

  2. Silence

    Of course, he’d have to check with Mayor Benjamin to see how he feels about the stadium sale first.

  3. Bryan Caskey

    I kind of understand the opposition to the Wal-Mart, but it seems like the positives outweigh the negatives here. Increased tax revenue for the government (to waste), cheap goods for the public, and some jobs get created.

    Or we could just let the broken-down baseball stadium sit there. I don’t see any other people offering an alternative to a Wal-Mart.

  4. SusanG

    My first reaction to the Walmart is that it’s a good thing. There is not much retail business down in that area, and the entire South Congaree area could use more jobs closer to them and even retail jobs like Walmart would help.

    If it were a Lowe’s or Home Depot would people be as upset, or is it just that Walmart is a brand that we love to hate?

  5. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ Susan G– Precisely. If it were a Trader Joe’s, which would more closely compete with a lot of local businesses, I doubt we’d see the same furor.

  6. Brad

    By the way, Cameron called me last night after seeing this. He took exception to my suggesting he might not be taking a position. He said he’s taken the right position, as a strategic look at development is overdue.

    I told him I didn’t know what I thought of his statement, so I was just presenting it in as neutral a manner as I could think of, leaving it to my readers to judge…

  7. Bryan Caskey

    It sounds very much like the trite politician’s response of commissioning a “Blue Ribbon” panel to study an issue and come up with a comprehensive, transformative plan. So, no, it’s not a stance. It’s simply advocating for a plan.

    However, it does seem that he did take a stand on the Devine Street “porn shop” – he’s against it.

  8. `Kathryn Fenner

    Life of Brian:

    JUDITH: They’ve arrested Brian!
    …They’ve dragged him off! They’re going to crucify him!

    REG: Right! This calls for immediate discussion!

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