Author Topic: Al Joseph addresses the Steel Mill situation  (Read 1646 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Marty Tennant

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5785
    • Marty Tennant the PC Doctor
Al Joseph addresses the Steel Mill situation
« on: September 22, 2020, 12:30:38 PM »
From his Facebook page:

It’s time to talk about the Steel Mill…..again. I want to make it clear up front that these comments and opinions are my own. They are not representative of any other Council Member, city staff or resident of Georgetown.
As everyone knows, Liberty Steel had ceased production again. Whatever the reason, Covid-19 or otherwise, the fact remains that it closed again and in Liberty’s own words, there is no timetable for reopening. The city has been here before, over and over and over again. Different people, different owners, but the same sad result. Even when the mill was open just a few short months ago, the employment and production levels were well below the projections made to the city when Liberty was seeking ordinance changes, a measure I opposed and voted against. Unfortunately, the ordinance changes were passed, giving Liberty much more flexibility and leeway in the event of a closure. So here we are……again.
Liberty Steel is not in financial arrears to the City of Georgetown, they are however, behind in taxes owed to the county. As of two weeks ago, the bill was more than $300,000, as confirmed by the county to our City Administrator. Both the city and county gave Liberty incentives to open initially. These incentives required Liberty to maintain specific employment numbers, hire city residents, and had other considerations such as beautification, air quality, etc. With the mill closed, those obligations are obviously not being met.
Will Liberty Steel reopen or not? Everyone has their opinion, but as I have said before, to predict the future you first must look to the past. Georgetown’s history with the Steel Mill over the last decade has not been exemplary. Maybe I should say the Steel Mill’s history with Georgetown, but either way it has not been pretty. I have been very clear since day one, if the mill could reopen as a viable entity, employ large numbers of our city’s residents, be a good neighbor to Georgetown, and honor all its commitments, I would support them wholeheartedly. If not, it is time for us to explore options for the use of that property that will provide good paying jobs for our residents, not to mention a welcoming view into Georgetown for our visitors.
The mill owners and the Steelworkers Union will tell you they provide excellent pay and benefits to their employees, and they do. However, when the mill is closed more days than it is open, and when open, only employs a small number of workers, it is not honoring its promise to its employees or the citizens of Georgetown. Now, we must ask if this situation is in the best interest of the city and its residents. The number of jobs that demolition, cleanup, and redevelopment of the property would provide are far more than the mill can. Once those jobs are here, they will most likely increase, for years and years to come.
The wonderful research that the Urban Land Institute (ULI) did for Georgetown several years ago gave us a snapshot of what that property could become and the number of jobs it could provide. Far, far more than an empty mill or a mill operating at limited capacity. Former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley publicly stated that the redevelopment of this property could be the single biggest and most successful venture on the Eastern Seaboard.
To recap – some would tell you that it is more important to maintain a hundred or so steel mill jobs than it is to provide jobs for thousands. I feel that providing thousands of jobs and a new future for our city, is the most important thing we can do.
What does the future hold? I do not know but I do know that the definition of insanity is to continue doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. It seems to me that is exactly where we are and what we are doing in relation to the Steel Mill. It is time to try something new. Something new that could employ thousands of our citizens, something new that could revitalize the economy of our city, something new that would embrace the beauty of our area. Could it be any worse? Yes – we could have a closed heavy industrial site, employing no one, rusting before our eyes, for years into the future.
I’m betting that a change would be much, much better, and I believe that better is what this city and our citizens deserve.
(note: While my post was accurate with the information I had at the time, I've been informed that Liberty Steel has satisfied their financial obligation to Georgetown County. As of late last week, all taxes and late fees have been paid.)
Notice:  All posts made by me are my OPINION.  I am not responsible for any comments by others!  The Citizens' Report is provided as a public service to the citizens of Georgetown County for them to report and comment on the news.

Tom Rubillo

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 166
Re: Al Joseph addresses the Steel Mill situation
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2020, 01:37:34 PM »
It is time for the city to apply to the EPA for Superfund assistance to clean up the stretch of steel mill property that has been cleared off and not used for steel production.  That, of course, is the part stretching from Wood to Dozier Streets and from Front St. to the Sampit River.  If the mill's owners cooperate, the city should acknowledge that all pollution problems found there were caused by Liberty's predecessors, helping with its claim that it has no liability to repay EPA for the cost of cleanup.  If the mill owners do not cooperate, the city should remain silent on this point and leave the company to its own resources. 

To be clear, an application for EPA assistance (and lobbying with Senator Scott and the Governor for assistance in pushing the application through the administrative process) will not cost anything.  Applying for Superfund assistance is an entirely paper process.  All it takes is a little bit of time and enough basic competence to read the instructions posted on EPA's website.  Limiting the application to part of the property at this point will not prevent the city from either amending its application to include the rest of the mill or file a second application for the balance of the property once Liberty's owners finally get off of the pot and let everyone know that they're finished.  Either way, there is absolutely no logical reason for the city to procrastinate any longer with seeking federal assistance in cleaning up at least part of the mess that a half century of heavy industrial use of the property has left behind.  Positive economic development cannot occur in the absence of cleanup.

PS:  Look at the entire area on Google Earth.  You'll see what a mess it, the Port Authority's property and the adjoining stretch have become.  Nothing prevents the city for asking EPA (and Senator Scott) for help cleaning up all of that otherwise very valuable property too.  The entire stretch of land is, after all, a central part of Senator Scott's Economic Opportunity Zone.  Nothing stands in the way of starting the long and laborious process of cleaning up, that is, except the inertia of an otherwise lazy, indifferent and/or incompetent (but very well paid and otherwise compensated) local government bureaucracy.

Come on local leadership:  Lead. 

Tom Rubillo

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 166
Re: Al Joseph addresses the Steel Mill situation
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2020, 03:01:07 PM »
And by the way, there are lots of very good, high paying jobs to be had in an environmental cleanup.  I'm certain that Horry-Georgetown Tech would be willing to provide any necessary training in preparation for that work.  If I read EPA's website correctly, there's federal money available to pay for the training.  Just saying, jobs, jobs, jobs.

IWCCTTT

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 554
Re: Al Joseph addresses the Steel Mill situation
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2020, 08:53:59 AM »
I can't wait to read the article in the Georgetown Times about the Steel Mill fate this time.

TimArmstrong

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 132
Re: Al Joseph addresses the Steel Mill situation
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2020, 09:38:57 AM »
And by the way, there are lots of very good, high paying jobs to be had in an environmental cleanup.  I'm certain that Horry-Georgetown Tech would be willing to provide any necessary training in preparation for that work.  If I read EPA's website correctly, there's federal money available to pay for the training.  Just saying, jobs, jobs, jobs.

Cleanup would take prob a decade or two, right?

forklift driver

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 375
Re: Al Joseph addresses the Steel Mill situation
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2020, 02:55:46 PM »
And by the way, there are lots of very good, high paying jobs to be had in an environmental cleanup.  I'm certain that Horry-Georgetown Tech would be willing to provide any necessary training in preparation for that work.  If I read EPA's website correctly, there's federal money available to pay for the training.  Just saying, jobs, jobs, jobs.

Cleanup would take prob a decade or two, right?

At the very least. Can you imagine how far down they will have to dig to get the contamination out of there? And then the port property is probably even worse.

Tom Rubillo

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 166
Re: Al Joseph addresses the Steel Mill situation
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2020, 03:27:49 PM »
Jobs, jobs, jobs.  But first, to get all those good paying jobs, an application for financial and other assistance from the Superfund has to be filed with the EPA.  Either the city or the county (or both) can do that.  It is time to start that process.  Nothing starts or happens until the application is made.