A popular Lowcountry nature and walking trail could soon see even more foot traffic than it already does, if a Beaufort city ordinance passes to allow some businesses to open along the route.
The area around the old train depot is the spot where the ordinance would allow for businesses such as cafes, coffee shops, art workshops, and bike rental stores.
Those in favor of seeing the area developed, like City Councilman Stephen Murray, along with the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, say it could mean economic growth for Beaufort.
“We’re going to have lots of great businesses cropping-up along the way. We hope that we see a lot of cafes and coffee shops…bike rental places come online there,” Chamber CEO Blakeley Williams says.
Others say the change could be good, but wonder about unwanted guests in their neighborhood, if crime increases. Only weeks ago, an elderly man was robbed at gunpoint along the trail.
“My biggest concern is, I mean, crime and if [police] are going to patrol it a little better,” Depot Road resident Brett Duncan says. “I mean, you got a business, they’re going to have money, so you know, the crime may pick up.”
Councilman Stephen Murray says crime shouldn’t be an issue, because as business picks up, more people come out, which means more eyes watching and acting as a deterrent to crime.
“I think that when we have incidents like we had a couple of weeks ago, it’s certainly a cause for concern, it’s certainly something that all of us in local government need to be working with each other to find ways to deter that crime if we can,” Murray says.
The ordinance has only passed its first reading, so there are more hurdles to clear, but neighbors and Murray are optimistic it will pass.