Pickens council voices cruising support

By Ben Robinson, Courier Staff

PICKENS — Cruising was brought up at the Monday  meeting of Pickens City Council, with most members voicing support for allowing the practice.

Councilman Patrick Lark said there was talk around town about allowing cruising downtown just through summer.

“We need to look at the logistics of it,” Lark said. “It’s kind of nostalgic — the way it used to be.”

Lark said he wondered if young people today even know what cruising is. Lark said the main problem he had with cruising was that Pickens had banned the practice by the time he was old enough to drive.

Mayor David Owens said he had good memories from the cruising days.

“We enjoyed it several years,” Owens said. “But when it ended, it was so bad, if I could have gotten down here and voiced my opinion, it would have been stopped. It was so bad you couldn’t get through the intersections.”

But Owens said that as a limited event it could bring business into town.

Councilman Donnie McKinney said he went through town last Saturday night and there were only three cars on the streets.

“I think if we do it right, it would be a positive thing.” Owens said.

  The proposal was for Saturday nights only, June 30 and July, from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m.

“I remember seeing it when I was young,” Lark said. “You just saw everybody hanging out.”

“There’s a lot of people who met their spouses while cruising,” Owens said.

“And there was no parent who had to wonder where their kids were at,” council member Patti Welborn said. “Our kids have been run off from everywhere, and we don’t know where they’re at.”

Owens told Police Chief Rodney Gregory he could expect problems maintain order during cruising events. Gregory said he was actually one of the people who had encouraged others about the possibility.

In other business, local residents Cecil Hitchcock and Angie Villano appeared in front of Pickens City Council to voice their opposition to a proposal to re-zone 518 Hampton Ave. to general business. Their concern was as members of Holy Cross Catholic Church.

“We have quite a few priests who come here, basically to get down to prayer,” Villano said.

Villano said she was afraid the distraction of a commercial business next door would be upsetting to the priests.

General commercial would leave the property open to many different options, Villano said, adding that the property’s owner had contacted the church and said she did not want to do anything that would hurt the church, and favored using the property to house lawyers or some other form of non-obtrusive business.  But general business would allow businesses like a bar to locate in the property.

“We don’t know what she’s going to do,” Villano said.

Lark said he did not want to do anything that would hurt the church, but he did not want to possibly stand in the way of something good being done with the property.

“My concern is to maintain the integrity of the church,” Hitchcock told council.

Council voted against the rezoning, with Owens, Welborn and Lark voting for it, and council members Fletcher Perry, Isaiah Scipio, Carlton Holley and McKinney voting against.

Council also voted 7-0 to approve a contract with AF Sounds of Easley to pay $375 per city event for sound and lighting services.