Mayor#039;s first term marked with change

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 14, 2004

With his first term in office as mayor of Greenville, Dexter McLendon is wrapping up what many believe to be one of the most historic, four-year mayoral terms of any mayor in the city’s history. While he has detractors who don’t agree with many of the decisions he and the city council have made the last four years, McLendon is philosophical about his term, his council and the city employees that he’s responsible for.

Recently McLendon sat down with The Greenville Advocate to talk about his first term as mayor and discuss many of the issues and projects that are ongoing for the city. He also gave some insight into his plans for the coming years.

Q. As you get close to completing your first term as mayor, what accomplishments are you most proud of?

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A. &uot;What I’m most proud of is that we’ve had a city council that has worked well together and had the same mission in mind. We want all our citizens to have a good quality of life. The other thing I’m most proud of is our department heads. I’m proud they work together and are part of a team. Morale is good in the city and I’m most proud about their attitudes and how they approach their jobs. Without a team concept and a council that works for the betterment of Greenville, none of the city’s projects would be possible. I’ve seen so many municipalities spend time arguing about things, but this city council doesn’t do that and neither does the city’s employees. I’ve been in city government for 15 years and I’ve never seen this much get accomplished and it’s because of a council and city staff that works together.

Q. Do you plan to run for another term in the August 2004 mayoral election?

A. &uot;Yes, my plan is to run for another term, but I’ll make my final decision and announce it sometime during the summer.&uot;

Q. Why do you think you want to run for another term?

A. &uot;My only motivation to run again would be that I love Greenville. I want to see Greenville grow and I believe we’re on the right track to see that happen.&uot;

Q. In the meantime, what are some of the projects you and the city council hope to complete this year prior to the election?

A. &uot;We have a paving project this spring where we’ll spend between $250-$300,000 paving streets. Each council member will have a list of streets they need paved given to the street supervisor, Milton Luckie, and we hope to have that on a city council agenda soon so we can finalize it and get started.

We’re also applying for another CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) housing grant. We’ve done two of these in this administration, which has never been done before. This grant would be for $500,000 with $50,000 in matching money paid by the city to help fix road and sewer problems in the Baptist Hill area.

We also have our ongoing projects at Hwashin and Hysco and the road and sewer projects we have there will help improve the quality of life for all of Greenville’s citizens.&uot;

Q. How will it improve the quality of life?

A. &uot;We have a $1.5 million EDA grant that the city will match somewhere around $700-$800,000 through a bond issue by the water works and sewer board to build another water tank in town to help solve some of the city’s water problems.&uot;

Q. With the city set to take over the lease of the old Wal-Mart building, what progress is being made to find tenants to fill the building and keep the city from fully absorbing the cost of the lease?

A. &uot;We have several movie theaters we’re working with on leasing the old building and they will pay rent on that building. We also have a restaurant looking at that building and a nationally known retailer interested too. We also have a company interested in taking the whole building.&uot;

Q. Will the city have to fund improvements to the building to make it work for future tenants?

A. &uot;Our plans are for the movie theater to make their own improvements but we’re not sure about the others at this point.&uot;

Q. In hindsight, do you think having the city get involved with leasing the old Wal-Mart building was a good decision?

A. &uot;This decision reminds me of a time 13 years ago when we made a decision on a Robert Trent Jones golf course. In hindsight we made the right decision. I believe, down the road, that we made the right decision on Wal-Mart for all the citizens of Greenville. No matter what decision you make, you’re always going to have people second guessing. Whether you have an empty old Wal-Mart building or a sub-leased old Wal-Mart building. Some people say they want Greenville to grow, but they don’t want anything to change and you can’t have both. This mayor and council saw a growth opportunity and made the decision to help Greenville grow.&uot;

Q. With the recent industrial announcements, what do you think Greenville will be like in five or ten years from now?

A. &uot;In five or ten years we will look back at the last two years and see we made the right decision on going out and getting good paying jobs for our citizens. People from surrounding areas will come to Greenville to shop and we’re getting calls from housing developers and commercial developers who are interested in building here. You’ll also see that new people will move into Greenville and that the quality of life for all our citizens will improve.&uot;