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Changes Coming Soon To Chicora/Cherokee
9/28/2016 3:42:21 PM

Welcome sign in Chicora/Cherokee community
By Barney Blakeney

In a few months, residents of the Chicora/Cherokee neighborhood in North Charleston will begin to see more impact from the construction of the S.C. State Port Authority facility at the former Charleston Naval Base. Some 200 residences will be displaced as the port facility rail yard begins to take shape.

Construction of the rail yard that will serve the port facility was a controversial issue from the beginning and led to a court battle between state agencies and the city. As might be expected, the predominantly black communities of the southern end at the facility came out as the biggest losers. The city fought to keep a rail spur from invading affluent northern neighborhoods, but residents on the southern end will find the hub of the facility’s rail system in their backyards.

Part of the mitigation to the community is the construction of earthen breams that will serve as noise and pollution buffers. Construction of those buffers will displace some 200 residences, said Chicora/Cherokee Neighborhood Association President Rebecca Rushton.

She expressed concern residents have not focused on the issue. Rushton’s concerns surfaced during a conversation about the lack of attendance at a recent meeting to address gun violence in the Waylyn community.

“We can’t get people to attend meetings so they’ll be informed. The buffers will cause some displacement, but beyond that our neighborhood is changing,” she said.

The blighted Chicora/Cherokee community left in the wake of the closure of the former Charleston Naval shipyard is transitioning to its former working class and middle class character as North Charleston sheds a rusty manufacturing exterior to take on the luster of a diverse modern and urban community, the state’s third largest city.

Commuters leaving downtown Charleston jobs look down from a congested I-26 Highway upon the communities of the cities southern district and realize homes in those communities would mean shorter commutes and less time spent sitting in traffic, said Chicora/Cherokee Neighborhood Association vice president A.J. Davis. Rushton said it’s a no-brainer that the area’s nearly 80 percent low income rental occupants will be displaced. Residents need to be engaged, she said.

“We know change is coming. There are a lot of moving parts and a lot of people don’t understand how intricate this is,” Davis added.

South Dist. 10 city councilman Michael Brown said in the next three years, over $1.5 billion will be spent to develop the port facility. Behind that will come some impacts that will be adverse to the existing residents.

“We’ve got to be real with ourselves. We want things to be better but we also want things to be the same. This community will be open to who ever will come,” he said.

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