Just two feet, too much to ask?

  • Friday, April 11, 2014

To the Editor:

Another Flowertown Festival has come and gone. The weather and blooming fauna could not have been much better. Sunday even turned out to be a pleasant day, too, despite ominous forecasts.

Living in town, I sometimes question some of the thinking behind the traffic routing and side street blockades, but it is, after all, only for one weekend. The Summerville Police do a great job, for the most part, dealing with all the festival brings upon them.

Most of us are used to the detours, traffic jams, and throng of visitors, but probably, most do not know about the problems the YMCA itself creates for some – just because it can.

I am told some vendors that do “shows” for a living are apparently beginning to opt-out of Summerville’s Festival and scheduling elsewhere because of the attitude and treatment by “Y” personnel that deal with the festival – and probably are spreading the word.

That said, hopefully the YMCA is happy with another year’s net income. I was thankful to hear from a dedicated, thoughtful (and I might add, sympathetic) Summerville police officer, that the “Y” now pays for the additional police presence required to handle the Festival traffic, security, and emergencies, throughout the weekend – including their overtime, as it should.

I hope that financial responsibility also extends to the Town employees who work tirelessly- early and late - over the weekend, handling what the police do not, along with SCE&G’s contributions. Their efforts make a huge difference and the Y should be paying for all additional expenses – not the taxpayers.

Our family has owned property in the park for more than 40 years - operating as the Child Care Center for much of that time. Since the Azalea Festival years, we have rented spaces in our yard to pay the annual property taxes. For nearly as long, the YMCA has been a problem for us and a thorn in our sides.

Although perhaps misdirected, since it’s likely only the Y representatives involved with the Festival, I tend to have a problem with the YMCA the rest of the year for the treatment received year after year during festival weekend. It’s always something. I know from talking with others that I’m not alone in this sentiment.

After Town Council officially voted that private property owners could rent spaces, the Y began, last year, marking spaces across the sidewalk from us at the edge of our driveway (asphalt) coming into our property from Main Street. (Is there any legal right-of-way where a driveway is concerned?)

Since the initial section of driveway has an offset- with a ditch, drop off, and inner section of driveway- last year, it created a problem with some vendors’ trailers navigating that unnecessarily tight spot while trying to avoid the vendor sitting at the edge of our asphalt.

To prevent a repeat of last year’s problem, this year I had hoped that the Y would leave approximately two feet before starting their space measurements (which includes “buffer zones” and 1-2 feet between some spaces – I have pictures). I should have known better. The YMCA is still being the YMCA. It would have cost them nothing, would have been handled in a “good-neighborly, we’re-all-in-this-together” sort of way, and for the first time ever, would have created some good will.

Furthermore, it should not have been a surprise to me when, after having made my case to the Y’s representative and a Summerville police officer, that the Y would refuse and that the policeman would side with his employer.

What was fair, just and the right thing to do did not seem to matter. I can only conclude that the Y is about “twisting the knife” whenever the chance arises.

The policeman advised I take the matter to Town Council if I have a problem (over two feet, no less…?). Leave it to the YMCA – and that policeman – to let the molehill become a mountain and for the animosity to continue. The Y’s spacing is not about efficiency, and with the police on their side, there is no one to stop them. Interestingly, the vendor that later set up at the edge of our driveway - and then proceeded to put out a short awning over our driveway itself - told me he had actually started his set up two feet over and the “lady from the Y” told him to move it over to the edge of our asphalt.

At least the Festival is over and taxes are paid for another year, regardless of the YMCA’s shoddy treatment. I suspect others have had similar treatment, but hey, it is only for one long, tiring weekend out of the year- and certainly not worth losing our humanity over a few bad apples.

Larry Knox


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