Mayor faces public opposition of lane extension
What started as a normal Town Council meeting quickly escalated into a shouting match Wednesday as several members of the public addressed the council in opposition of the proposed Fripp Lane extension.
The item appeared on the town Public Works Committee agenda last week at Mayor Bill Collins’ request. Committee Chairman Terry Jenkins recommended the item be deferred to full council so the mayor could explain his reasoning behind the proposed extension, which was last proposed several years ago and never came to fruition.
The item also appeared on the town Finance Committee agenda and was passed 5:1, the only opposition coming from Councilman Bill McIntosh.
The mayor cited public safety as his interest for extending the lane, which would connect the Palmetto Park and Weatherstone subdivisions.
The extension would create a second exit for residents of both communities, which he said would be of the utmost importance the next time the town needs to evacuate for a hurricane.
While the mayor addressed long-term public safety, the large number of residents of Weatherstone had more immediate concerns.
“We know this is going to be a shortcut across town,” said Mark Junkins of Weatherstone. “This is going to increase traffic and decrease public safety for our children.”
Although only seven people approached the podium to officially address the council, all echoing similar complaints, the meeting soon erupted into disorder as several people began interjecting from their seats in the audience.
Attempting to rein in the meeting, Mayor Collins reassured the public that the extension “is critically important. This comes to us as the best recommendation from staff. We’re not doing this willy-nilly to penalize Weatherstone.”
The public quickly erupted into opposition, including a comment from one woman who said, “I hope those children don’t get killed.”
The mayor replied, “I hope that’s exactly what we prevent,” and closed the public comments portion of the meeting.