Town, ministry at odds over parking lot

  • Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dan Brown/Independent - Barricades prohibit public parking at the Heart to Heart Ministries parking lot on Behrman Street.

Moncks Corner Town Council has decided to “work around” Heart to Heart International Ministries, after being unable to solve an 18-month long parking dispute.
“We’re moving forward,” said Moncks Corner Town Administrator Marc Hehn. “We can’t seem to come to an amiable agreement so we’ll work around them.”
The town has decided to reconfigure the layout of its annual Friday Night Street Dance (set for June 28) after Heart to Heart announced a $500 cost for the use of the lot.
“In my personal opinion I don’t think we should pay it,” said Park and Recreation Director Ralph Jones at the town’s department head luncheon on June 14.
Hehn agreed.
“They don’t want us to park on their lot without charging a fee so we honored their request not to park there and moved things around,” Hehn said.
In a letter released to the newspaper this week, Heart to Heart staff said that the parking fee is the ministry’s attempt to keep the parking lot in good order. The Heart to Heart letter can be found in its entirety on page 9A of today’s Independent.
Heart to Heart contends that town-sponsored events have led to the deterioration of the lot over the years, and its request for payment is a fair compromise.
Citing conflict of interest, council member Tonia Aiken-Taylor recused herself from discussion or voting on the parking situation. She is pastor of Heart to Heart.
According to Jones, the dance area will undergo a slight reconfiguration with the stage being located at the elbow of the corner of Behrman Street facing Main Street. Custom 4 and Friends will not be playing on the Depot patio as in years past. The dance area for adults and children will be located in front of the stage between South Coast Bank and the depot with vendor booths set up where Behrman empties onto Main Street.
This configuration is altered slightly from the version Jones presented to town council during its June 18 meeting.
“We basically flip-flopped the way we had things set up,” Jones said. “We were able to rent a larger, covered stage so we moved it to the rear of the property facing Main Street.”
According to Jones this allows Behrman Street to remain open until 5:30 p.m. and does not require Main Street to be closed at all except during the town parade, which begins at 6:30 p.m.
Parking is not permitted in the Heart to Heart International Ministries parking lot and has been barricaded from public access by Heart to Heart.
Jones said there is plenty of free parking in town at Unity Park, along Railroad Street, in the Berkeley County School District parking lot on Main Street, and behind Town Hall.
Heart to Heart Ministries occupies the old Piggly Wiggly shopping center property adjacent to the Town Depot. In December 2011 members of the ministry advised town council they would be charging the town for parking during civic celebrations and private parties at the depot. In a letter to the town, Heart to Heart International Ministries said they would charge $500 per event for parking. 
Town officials and representatives from Heart to Heart have been engaged in negotiations since then to try and resolve the parking situation without success.

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