District 21 Republican Candidate Stacy Kuper:
Question 1) what do you think the County Council’s role is in improving the county’s walking and biking infrastructure?
Answer 1) Greenville County plays an important role in the creation of green spaces in a community. I believe that District 21 is a community that wants to bike and walk safely where they live. One of the first actionable items I would start is the development of an Area Plan. This will help inventory what we have and what we want to see in the District. We can then work with appropriate County and State entities to create a plan around adding Bike lanes and other necessary infrastructure to our Suburban roads. An Area Plan can also help delineate where sidewalks can be used to link our communities and schools. The passage of the Safe Routes to School started this process but we must continue to push for funding through grants and county dollars to implement. We can also work with residential developers to create a holistic community instead of a “one at a time” approach.
Question 2) what would you say are Greenville’s transportation challenges? Do you think walking, biking and transit play a role in solving those challenges? How?
Answer 2) Greenville’s Transportation system as a whole needs to catch up with the significant growth we have experienced. Walking and Biking play a role in transit but must be coupled with the larger transportation issues. In the larger County context, we need transportation to get people to jobs, education and healthcare. In District 21, it will be a difficult sell to get people on public transportation until this option become more cost effect or timely. Some people like to have the option to walk or bike to work so having infrastructure that allows this to happen needs to be part of Greenville’s future.
Question 3) Greenville County’s land use policies have a major impact on how people get around. Numerous studies show if you build pedestrian and bike-related infrastructure, people will use it. In addition, this type of infrastructure is much cheaper to build and maintain than car-based infrastructure. But when new construction is not required to include pedestrian and/or bike infrastructure, it is very often not included, limiting people’s options, and make foot and bicycle transportation less safe. What role do you think County Council plays in helping manage growth to ensure residents have transportation options?
Answer 3) I completely agree. This all goes back to the Plan. If you have an Area Plan that gives the future vision for potential growth then you can work with the developers to create linked communities. It is difficult to ask a developer to add sidewalks to the outside of their developments if you don’t have the rest of the picture planned out.
Question 4) The Swamp Rabbit Trail has had a huge impact on the economy and quality of life in our county, and there are plans to extend the trail to CU-ICAR. Some, but not all, of these installations (I’m can be grant funded. What other revenue sources will you propose for expanding our off-road trail?
Answer 4) Questions of funding become the crux of most matters at the local government level. Given limited resources and an aversion to increasing taxes with each new project, we have to maximize the return on each project. Funds from the hospitality tax have frequently been used for recreational facilities and the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Each time these funds have been put towards community enhancing projects, the return on that investment aggregates for years to come. The County can also place a re-occurring amount in the General Fund budget that is specific to trails, sidewalks and other amenities that not only serve our citizens but attract tourists from all over the country.
Question 5) The 2014 Roads Referendum included 101 bike walk projects that would cost $47.8 million. These proposals included many safe-routes-to-school projects, such as sidewalks to Monarch Elementary and Bells Crossing Elementary. There has been no discussion of funding these projects since the defeat of the referendum. Do you support funding these projects? How can these projects be funded so they may be built in the near future?
Answer 5) I do support funding these projects. I would like to review the budgets for each to have a better understanding about where dollars can come from. Since Council already passed a resolution to support Safe Routes to Schools, we can look for opportunities to bring in Federal funds to well planned areas. Greenville has always been a community that gets involved and I would like to engage with the community business leaders to identify opportunities where they can help us create these projects and the county sustaining them.
Question 6) Would you support the legislation in Columbia allowing a penny sales tax option for road improvements, including for biking and walking infrastructure, be granted to cities instead of just counties?
Answer 6) I would support this initiative. Any time we can bring the dollars closer to home and away from Columbia, they can be used more effectively. Local decisions are better decisions from a governmental point of view. Each city in our county is a partner with the SRT and there are several efforts to link the communities with the trail. If the citizens in that community vote to invest in infrastructure in that manner, the state government should allow them to do so.
Question 7) What role do you think County Council should play in making it safer for children to walk and bike to school?
Answer 7) The schools are required to add sidewalks and crosswalks to their construction but they are sidewalks to nowhere. Having a plan that includes sidewalks will help prioritize the budget and allow us to find a revenue stream to fund them. We must work with the School District as well to plan where schools go and access to them. Placement of a school has a major impact on the surrounding area and the selection process cannot be done in a vacuum.
Question 8) Public Transportation passengers often walk or bike to their destinations from the nearest bus stop; however lack of funding for bike walk infrastructure is a barrier for use of public transportation. What funding sources could County Council provide to help support Greenlink expansion and accessibility to bus stops?
Answer 8) Since the bus system is limited in routes and equipment, people will have to either drive, ride or walk to the various bus stops along each route. Greenlink does get funding from the County but it is a lump sum that goes directly into the operation of the system. I would like to see the funding increased but then allocate some of the money to those efforts that are likely to attract riders from the areas adjacent to current bus routes. Bike racks on buses, easier access to equipment, technology that tells you how far away a particular bus is – these are all ideas that need additional funding to make them more main stream.
Question 9) Tell us about your personal experiences riding a bike, running or walking in Greenville County for recreation, exercise or transportation.
Answer 9) My experience with the trails has been mostly the swamp rabbit trail. I do not live in a neighborhood so taking my daughter on the trail to ride her bike is the only way she gets to learn how to ride. My oldest daughter often goes with her friends on weekends for long bike rides. I would use the trails more often if we had some closer to my home. It is hard with my limited schedule to get out to Travelers Rest on the weekends or weeknights. I served on the GCEDC (Greenville County Economic Development Corporation) advocating the expansion of the swamp rabbit trail to CUICAR. We need more trails in the County for families to live a healthier life!!