Some of the things we have to do behind the scenes aren’t pretty but they are needed.City Planner LaMeisha Hunter Kelly
JEKYLL ISLAND — Change isn’t always pretty. Sometimes it’s not even noticeable.
That was the gist of LaMeisha Hunter Kelly’s address at the 2019 Community Retreat at the Jekyll Island Club on Friday. She is the city planner for the City of Rincon.
“Quality growth and development is our future," Kelly said early in her remarks at the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event.
Kelly followed by reciting a list of items Rincon officials are addressing. They have five and 10-year plans.
“Some of the things we have to do behind the scenes aren’t pretty but they are needed,” she said. “We have to expand our wastewater treatment plant. This water has to go somewhere and so we are working on that.
“Without that, we won’t be able to handle large development.”
Kelly added that the City of Rincon plans to upgrade its water and sewer system.
“When we talk about growth, it’s not someone just moving from Clyo to Rincon or from Guyton to Springfield,” she said. “It’s someone moving from China to Rincon or California to Rincon. They don’t want grinder pumps.”
Grinder pumps are wastewater conveyance devices. Once wastewater inside a tank reaches a specific level, the pump will turn on, grind the waste into a fine slurry and pump it to the sewer system.
Kelly said the City of Rincon has received about $1.5 million from the Community Block Development Program toward that end.
A visible change for Rincon will be the addition of decorative street lighting for Fort Howard Road and Ninth Street.
“Ninth Street is a major connector to the City of Rincon,” Kelly said. “When someone (asks for directions via their telephone) on I-16, it takes them on Ninth Street.”
Kelly explained that Ninth Street and Fort Howard Road are “pretty dark” at night.
In another beautification effort, the City of Rincon is eyeing a new municipal building and police department.
“... Maybe not brand new, but it may have a pretty face,” Kelly said.
Kelly said it is important that the city’s older buildings be “refreshed.”
“When we have developers come in, they don’t want to see the old building,” she said. “We need to look professional so we are looking at updates to buildings and maybe some expansions.”
Kelly noted that the number of warehouses in Rincon is certain to expand in the coming years. A rush of them is expected on Ga. Hwy 21 and Old Augusta Road.
“It going to be how we prepare for it (that’s important) and we are trying to do that now,” she said.
Recreation was mentioned repeatedly during Kelly’s remarks. The Rincon Recreation Department needs a gym, she said.
“Thankfully, youth are coming back to sports,” she said. “At one time, we were nervous. It was like, [Oh my goodness! The children don’t want to come out and play anymore!’”
The Effingham County School District currently makes some of its gyms available for Rincon’s use. That situations is appreciated but not optimal, Kelly said.
She explained, “... we just had a record year with rec ball, basketball. We also had more interest for adult leagues and they need somewhere to go because they cannot participate in sports during the day while school is in session. So we foresee ourselves having a city gym.”
The Rincon Recreation Department also plans to add a stadium for football. It currently uses baseball/softball fields for football games and practices.
Rincon officials haven’t forgotten non-athletes. Kelly said Freedom Park, the site of the annual “Freedom Rings” fireworks show and other activities, has been “great” for the City of Rincon.
“We actually at times talk about needing something larger for even larger events,” she said. “If we had a larger venue, we could have a larger fireworks show. We are limited with our fireworks show because of the distance requirements.
“If we had a larger venue, we could have an even bolder, more powerful fireworks show.”
Kelly said the City of Rincon is planning more outdoor activities for residents, including movies.
“What are we going to do to get people to stay in the community? If we want them to stay in the community, we’ve got to give them something to do,” she said.
Another item on Kelly’s list was bicycle lanes. She said they are important to many new residents.
“When people move into the community, they want connectivity, they want walkability,” Kelly said. “... That’s one of the things that we are planning. When we have new streets, we are going to make sure that they have designated bike lanes.”
The City of Rincon has worked to have desirable destinations for bicyclists and others. It used a national recruiting firm in an two-year attempt to attract restaurant chains and major retailers.
“Nothing solid came out of it but maybe it wasn’t the right time,” Kelly said.
Kelly believes the drought will end soon because of Rincon's burgeoning population.
“We just need one,” she said. “We just need one to give the community a chance and when everyone sees how successful they are others will follow. We have so many that are hovering.
“They are hovering but we need somebody to land. In the next two years, that is what we are going to have.”
According to Census data, Rincon had 9,800 residents in 2010.
“We estimate that in 2020 we will be at 15,000,” Kelly said. “That’s great for those numbers different retailers (consider)."