Residents react to latest Project Derenne proposal - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Residents react to latest Project Derenne proposal

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By Christy Hutchings - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Ever since Savannah city limits ended at Derenne, people have debated how to handle the growth and growing pains. For the past 18 months an advisory committee has been working on Project Derenne.

Thursday night people got chance to see phase two of the effort.  They saw the plans, listened to how the advisory committee came up with the proposal, but they still weren't getting the answers to their questions. What they wanted to hear was if their homes and businesses were in jeopardy. Instead, they heard concepts of what could be.

"The businesses we're concerned about, the people we're concerned about, it's our neighborhood," said Kathryn Cook.

Cook stressed her concerns at the meeting. She's had a business on Montgomery Street for the past 42 years. So when she looked at the proposed changes to Montgomery Street, she was outraged.

They're expanding the road, adding greenery, possibly even a park in the nearby area. Cook says it looks good on paper, but that's it. "It's not going to happen. We don't have the money for that to happen. Saying we're going to plant trees and do this and that, where's the money coming from?" asked Cook.

Her question was never answered. She's not alone. Lee Kurowsky has lived here his whole life; he's not buying what they're selling either. "We don't want generalizations. You can generalize all you want, but unless you have something solid you won't get anyone behind you," said Kurowsky.

But the meeting wasn't about having solid facts, just still putting out ideas. Dwayne Simpson, a project advisor, says the committee is working hard and for the most part, people seem happy with the proposed changes. "It's nothing that's going to happen overnight.  Looking at the studies we've done, this is a very long term project. I mean 3-5 years and that's if we get the planning started next year at this time.  Three to five years before you see major anything started.  It could be up to twenty years before there's redevelopment on the other end.  It's a work in progress," said Simpson.

One thing the committee knows for sure, the current proposal would not affect any of the homes or businesses on Derenne between Abercorn Street and the Truman Parkway.  Originally there was a proposal to widen Derenne, but that is now off the table. Still, they are talking about extending Montgomery Street which raises new concerns, like what this means for Hunter Army Airfield.

The proposal suggests putting in a fly-over, which would start on I-516 and end near the Hunter Army Airfield gate. Officials with Hunter tell us they know there's a problem with Derenne and Montgomery and they are willing to work to fix this problem. But they're not sure this is the solution. They say they'll have to sit down a few more times to really assess this suggestion.

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