If Aiken County had a heat map for growth, the hot spots for change would be on the river in North Augusta and in the City of Aiken.
If you talk to people who live in Aiken, there are differing opinions about the growth. Some love that they have new meeting space, restaurants and venues. Others do not love the increase in traffic. Still more want to have their cake and eat it too– all the good stuff with no traffic and unlimited free parking.
“If the community is not growing, then we’re dying.” says County Councilman Andrew Siders who is in the “pro-growth” group.
He hears grumbles about growth from his clients and constituents mainly related to traffic build up.
“A mistake a lot of people make is they think it will always come,” Siders says. “I’ve seen communities that have stifled growth and developers say, ‘we’re not going to deal with them anymore and businesses don’t want to come because it’s not a business friendly environment.’ It’s a blessing the fact that people want to be there, but you really have to make sure you are keeping up with infrastructure and things of that stuff and it’s tough, it’s not easy.”
Kelvin Jenkins is now a real estate agent in Aiken County, but beforehand he worked across the river and spent a lot of his money in Georgia. Now, he does not.
“I absolutely love the growth,” Jenkins says. “The reason is because look at what the growth has brought to downtown Aiken. I mean you have new minds, new visions. Our generation is getting older so we’re starting to make a little bit more decisions versus older Aiken. With growth comes change and I absolutely love it.”
Others have a different opinion from Jenkins. One man told NewsChannel 6 that as soon as they started seeing his small town in the likes of Southern Living Magazine, he was disappointed. He does not want the recognition to bring more people and more traffic with it.
Many people share this sentiment– ‘I moved to Aiken from (insert name of big city) to get away from all of that and now Aiken is feeling less and less like a small town.’ Jenkins says he has the following response.
“I say ‘do you want to move back to Boston or Charleston and compare the traffic?’ It’s not that bad. I’ve been there, it’s not that bad,” Jenkins says.
We put a little information poll on our Facebook page that asks–What do you think about the growth in Aiken County? At last count, 62% said “Love it” and 37% said “hate it.”
CLICK HERE to vote and share your reasoning in the comments below.