Seven-story hotel plan not good for historic Congaree Vista


Editorials and other Opinion content offer perspectives on issues important to our community and are independent from the work of our newsroom reporters.

A combined Homewood Suites and Tru Hotel by Hilton is proposed for the corner of Gervais and Williams Streets in Columbia's Vista.

A combined Homewood Suites and Tru Hotel by Hilton is proposed for the corner of Gervais and Williams Streets in Columbia’s Vista.

City of Columbia DDRC

Protect View

I am a homeowner at City Club Townhomes on Williams Street and Gervais.

Hearing that a hotel was planned for the vacant property across from our homes, our neighborhood was excited. It would no longer be an eyesore of tall grass, weeds and discarded trash; however, that excitement quickly turned to dismay when the hotel plans were revealed.

A seven-story, 95-foot tall hotel with a 4-5 level parking deck was not what we expected. The plan does not fit with the Vista District that is surrounded by two and three-story historic buildings on all sides.

The transformation of the downtown area into restaurants, shops and galleries has been outstanding – while still maintaining the historic nature of the area.

How can a hotel that doesn’t meet the guidelines carefully developed to ensure the character of the Vista District be acceptable? Will our city leaders show the integrity needed to say, “No, we will not accept a hotel that does not respect the guidelines we approved. Bring us a design that will fit in with the historic architecture that surrounds the property and we will welcome it as a neighbor.”

I don’t think that is too much to ask.

Carolyn Leedecker, Columbia

Marriage equality

When one group of people is singled out, we are all at risk of losing our rights.

In 1967, had my husband and I been of different races and married in South Carolina, we would have been charged with a felony. Since we were white and different genders, we could legally marry.

The government was wrong then, and what some are trying to do today is equally wrong.

We are still a government of, by, and for the people. Our government is supposed to work equally for all of us.

Unfortunately, the goal of some is to make our country less of a democracy.

As a result, we can no longer assume that any of our rights are protected because of Supreme Court decisions.

I urge Senators Graham and Scott not to let their personal beliefs compromise their vote for equality, but to instead respect the right for consenting adults to legally marry, and vote “yes” on the Respect for Marriage Act.

Betty Rankin, Catawba

Increasing opportunity

It is time for South Carolina to get to the root of our workforce problems.

The SC Chamber Foundation understands it is time for change and is stepping up to be the catalyst by establishing a new Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) hyper-focused on increasing employment through inclusive pathways.

The foundation assisted with recruiting students to attend Dominion Energy’s Skilled Trades Day in March. There, a Spring Valley student attendee’s interest was sparked. He later applied to Dominion Energy’s lineman apprenticeship and secured a full-time, well-paying position.

To celebrate this accomplishment, the foundation co-hosted a “signing day” to recognize the student’s employment offer and to commemorate the successful partnership with Dominion Energy.

The South Carolina Chamber Foundation is able and willing to continue to increase opportunities for the underrepresented throughout the state.

Cynthia Bennett, chief diversity officer, SC Chamber of Commerce, Columbia

Diversity matters

The lack of Black representation in the public education system can have a negative effect on student achievement. Students are not able to relate to the content they are learning because they cannot see themselves within the content.

There are benefits for the educator and the student when each party shares similar cultures or backgrounds.

Relationships also play a key factor. As an educator, I have witnessed that. When educators get to know their students and develop a connection with them, students put forth more effort in their courses, despite not having initial interest in the subjects.

It is time for state officials to start putting emphasis on recruiting a more diverse population of educators.

Additionally, in developing curriculum, it is imperative for the curriculum development team to be equitable, creating space at the table for: students, pre-service teachers, new teachers, veteran teachers, principals, school counselors and district officials all of a diverse population .

Alesha Keith, Columbia


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