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Springdale Councilmember Viki Sox Fecas running for mayor in next Tuesday’s election

Springdale, SC 10/30/2021 (Paul Kirby) – Springdale Town Councilmember Viki Sox Fecas is in the race to represent the Town of Springdale as its mayor over the next four years. Fecas has been serving on the town’s council for 6 years and feels since current Mayor Michael Bishop is not running again, she is uniquely qualified to lead the town into the future. The election is next Tuesday, November 2nd.


Fecas is a semi-retired professor at USC who strongly believes that being well educated, trained, and involved are the major keys to leadership, especially in an elected position. She holds a Doctorate Degree in Administration of Higher Education, completed the state mandated orientation on zoning when she served on the Springdale’s Zoning Board of Appeals, is a graduate of the Municipal Association of South Carolina’s (MASC) Elected Officials Institute of Government, the Advanced MASC Officials Institute, and continues to stay current with professional development hours learning more and more about the innerworkings of government continually. She still teaches several days a week at the university.


She also represents the town on the Lexington County Municipal Association and is that organizations Special Events chair. She’s very proud of the fact that in her 6 years of service on council, she’s only missed one meeting and that was when she underwent knee surgery. She says that no other current councilmembers has that kind of record of involvement or her degree of training and education.


Fecas grew up in Springdale where both her father and grandfather served as mayor at some point. Except for a 15-year period when she went to college and during her early marriage, she has lived in the town her entire life. Interestingly enough, she is a cousin of Juston Ricard, the other Springdale councilmember that has filed to run for mayor, and several of the other the town’s councilmembers as well.


“We can’t be in the status quo,” Fecas said during a recent interview when asked about the positive changes that came to Springdale during Bishop’s 8 years in office. “We have to continue to move forward.”


She spoke of a new housing development coming to a large tract off Ermine Road. She said it took years of work to see that neighborhood come from a concept to the point where it will be something that the town can be proud of. “`We feel like this is something we’ll be pleased with,” Fecas said.


She pointed out that Springdale, like other municipalities, needs to grow but all growth should be closely monitored so that it’s, “good growth.” She went on to explain that the town had hoped the developer of the new neighborhood would start building by the end of 2021 but at this point, it looks as if that work may not begin until January or February of 2022.


Fecas is also excited about Lexington School District Two’s new Administrative and fine arts center is being built along Platt Springs Road right in the heart of the town. “The superintendent of the district now lives around the corner from me and I sometimes tease him about the short commute he’ll have to the office. He could very easily bike or walk to work if he’d like to,” she said. “His children are zoned for Springdale Elementary and that’s quite a coup for our community,” she continued referring not only to the superintendent becoming a town resident but the construction of the state-of-the-art facility as well. “That center is going to be a big plus for our town and its identity.”


“We have some major main corridor issues,” Fecas said regarding Platt Springs Road, the main road going through the town. “We have a Master Plan,” Fecas said. “We have not been in that Plan in the 6 years I’ve been on council,” she continued. “There are two homes that are still along that corridor that are zoned R-1 (residential) that have to be rezoned commercial to grow and fit with our Master Plan. It doesn’t mean that the folks can’t continue to live there, but that (rezoning) needs to happen at some time point and time. One of them (the homes) is trying to be sold and the other doesn’t want that commercial designation,” she said. That home’s owner is concerned about the extra noise and other aspect of commercial development but in order for the town to move ahead with their Master Plan, we would need to work that out so that the zoning could be changed.”


Fecas said that she excited about a number of projects that are in future for Springdale, but it is going to take a strong, well-prepared leader to get those moving. “We were recently notified that half of the funds earmarked for Springdale under The American Rescue plan is just sitting in a bank account unused. “Because I’m retired, I have the time to do the research on how that money can be used,” she said. “We were supposed to have a meeting in May at my request about that. I came prepared, and the other councilmembers weren’t, they hadn’t done their homework, so we are having to reschedule that meeting for next month.”


When asked about exactly what should take place at that American Rescue meeting, she said that it would be a time to develop a plan to decide how that money can and would be used. “We should have already had a plan in place for when the money was released so now it’s just sitting there,” she concluded. She pointed out that the use of that money is limited by the inordinate number of constraints placed on its use by the Federal Government but said that’s why the entire council has to get up to speed on what the limitation and acceptable uses for the money are.

Fecas suggested that one of the uses for that money might be more improvements in infrastructure. She said that sewer issues are a decades old problem that have been discussed by the town’s government since her father was mayor and a Phase 1 Sewer Plan was developed. “That seems like it is something that this money could be used for however, we have to be careful with how we spend it because if we do something wrong, we’d have to pay that money back and it’s a lot of money, $1.36 million dollars,” she said.


She also pointed out that the entire thought behind the American Rescue money was to help people that were disadvantaged by the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic. To that end she talked in length about some other programs that may benefit these families. “There are some after school help programs, we may be able to help with,” she stated. “We might also look into cable access for those Springdale families that don’t currently have that,” she said. “In order to help the disadvantaged, we have to identify them and where they area. That’s going to take some study and all the council will need to get up to speed on these things and be better prepared to address them,” she concluded.


She spoke in length about ordinances, rules, and regulations of the town. She said that often, citizens simply don’t know about these or understand them. She feels homeowner’s need to be better educated so that they understand how important it is to follow these ordinances. As an example, she said that Springdale residents need to use contractors and tradesman that are licensed to do business in the town. “Often, they just don’t know about so many of our guidelines and rules that are common in most towns. When they have a violation, they get a yellow piece of paper that may show they could be fined or they now have to abate a problem. If we did our duty and educated people before they built that wall without considering the setbacks or left their grass clippings just laying in the gutter or on the sidewalk, it could go a long way toward preventing hard feelings.” She went on to explain that educating all the citizens of Springdale is not an easy job. “Many of our residents are elderly and not everyone is plugged into the internet or monitoring social media. How to educate and communicate with our older citizens is a whole separate issue we need to consider.”


Fecas pointed out that Springdale officials believe that as many as 30% of the homes in the town are now used as rentals. “We need to identify where these rentals are so that we can monitor them and hold them to the same standard we hold our owner-occupied homes to.” She pointed out that these rental homes need to be licensed and inspected to protect the town and the renter. She also said that many rentals have a larger number of adults living in them. “As the number of adults in the home goes up, the need for extra parking arises. They (the renters) begin to park in the front yard or in the street,” she pointed out. “When that happens, it begins to effect the look and value of the neighborhood. That’s something that Cayce and other nearby municipalities have struggled with and something we’ll have to probably address in the future. I feel it's something we'll have to consider soon.”


Another topic on Fecas’ mind is the town’s two parks and other quality of life amenities. She says that although Springdale’s Benton Park at the town hall is the most well know, there’s another smaller near her home that the town needs to better utilize. “The people in that area felt that the little park was a residential park for that neighborhood, and I said no. The park belongs to everyone.” Even though that small park is maintained by the Lexington County Recreation and Aging Commission, the town does have a responsibility to work with them to see that it’s up to a certain standard, Fecas pointed out. She continued by saying, “Parents want their children to play in a secured area and I recently went by to look at that park and it doesn’t even have a gate. It also doesn’t have bathrooms and all parents know when a child needs to use the restroom while playing, it’s not always an option to load the children quickly for a dash to a business or somewhere else to find those restrooms. That’s something we certainly need to address in the future,” she stated. “The Park needs to be locked at sundown as does the bathrooms in Benton Park,” she said. “That’s something our police officers, we now have at least one working 24 hours a day, could do as a part of their daily routine.”


She also spoke of the town’s highly successful splashpad at Benton Park. “That has really turned into a small waterpark,” Fecas said. “We’ve spent $40,000 plus a year on maintaining that feature, and we don’t really know who uses it. We know that people who aren’t Springdale residents use it, and we can’t continue to fund that completely out of Hospitality Tax funds as we have in the past,” she stated. According to Fecas, the town is working now to install a recirculation pump and they’ll need to add chemicals into the recirculated water. “If we have to hire someone who is qualified to work with these chemicals, that will be another additional expense,” she stated. “That’s a free amenity that we can’t keep providing all the funding for, especially if that expense continues to grow. We may need to assess how many Springdale residents are using that park and who’s not a resident. Then, we can make decisions about perhaps charging a small fee for using the park and who we’d charge. Do we provide that for free for just Springdale residents and charge a small fee for the out-of-town people? This is all something we as a council need to look at sometime in the near future.”


Fecas also addressed the issue of the growing number of vacant homes in the town. “Sadly, I suspect that is because loved ones have passed, and families haven’t decided what they will do with these residences. I’d like to see those be filled with new, young families living and growing in Springdale.” She did say that she felt as if the town did have a place in the marketing of itself as a great place to live, raise a family, and even start a small business. “I always wanted to put a sign up that said, if you lived in Springdale, you’d be home now. Why do people just want to drive through our town headed to all those new subdivisions out in the county. There are so many beautiful homes available in Springdale that are already located in safe neighborhoods with great amenities close by,” she stated. “I think we can take a part of the responsibility for promoting Springdale to prospective home buyers.”


Near the end of the interview Fecas said, “We have to have members on the council who are visionaries, people who are ready to put in the hours to do the work. As a Strong Council form of government, I certainly realize that I’m just one of many votes on council but feel I’m uniquely qualified to bring this council together. We need to start tying up so many of the little loose ends we have. Things like the renovations of the Jewelry Warehouse building that we bought several years ago. We’re working toward getting the price of those renovations down but at some point, someone has got to get behind that and see it through. It takes real leadership to make these things happen. I'd like to see our old building attached to Benton Park made into a community center. The first step toward that is moving the town's daily operations to e newly renovated building where the Jewelry Warehouse once was.”


When asked about what would make her the best choice for Springdale’s next mayor she said, “Time, knowledge, interest, and just the personality I think are important. I’m very extroverted and all these are plusses for me. I also have a tremendous network I’ve built over the years I’ve served in various governmental and community capacities. It’s also just the passion and desire I have to serve. Growing up in Springdale and having both my grandfather and father serve the people here as the mayor of this town means a lot. If I am victorious in this election, I will be the third generation in my immediate family to serve in that position. That is my motivation, it’s not necessarily the reason that people should vote for me.” She went on to say that “My ideas are important. Some of our councilmembers are satisfied to come to our meetings and just vote. I’m not. I’m pushing ideas, I’ve introduced ordinances because I don’t like apathy. Apathy is a lifetime of council with little to show for it except voting on someone else’s ideas. That’s not who I am.”


In closing Fecas said that she’d appreciate every Springdale resident’s vote on Tuesday. “I welcome talking to everyone. They can all me at (803) 622-4765 or look at my website at vikisoxfecas.com to find out more about who I am and why I’d be the best choice for the mayor of Springdale.


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