Optimists hear from Mayor

Town of Irmo Mayor Barry Walker spoke to the Optimist Club of St. Andrews-Irmo on June 16. Walker also serves as President of the Lexington Municipal Association.

Walker’s path to the mayoralty had its beginnings when he transferred from Connecticut to this area while an information technology professional. He sought out the Irmo area because of the reputation enjoyed by School District 5. 

Walker first described the realities of life as a small-town mayor. He became aware the farther up the hierarchy of city sizes, the more partisan and politicized everyday business becomes. Given Irmo’s size and Town Council structure, Walker said seeking consensus, regardless of political leanings is fundamental. While there may be diverging opinions within the Council, a general direction must be established. 

Irmo’s current budget is $9.5 million, but Walker is constantly seeking out grant funding opportunities to supplement that budget. 

The speaker’s observation is the City of Columbia seems to be tearing down inner city neighborhoods and transplanting families to the Harbison and Village of Sandhills areas; however, those actions have been taken without providing any funding to support the needed programs and infrastructures. This trend began occurring during a time when the town also faced the challenges of keeping small businesses afloat during the Pandemic.

Having weathered those challenges, the town is involved in three projects to enhance the community’s quality of life:

IRMO DOG PARK: planned for the Rawls Creek area, with amenities that will make walking and exercising dogs a fun and well-serviced experience. There will be separate designated areas for smaller and larger dogs. Also part of the plan will be a walking track, watering stations, and waste disposal facilities.

IRMO COMMUNITY GARDEN: located in the Friarsgate area, the garden is already operating, with construction improvements ongoing. Local residents can lease raised garden space to grow some of their own food and to educate themselves in the process.

IRMO SKATE PARK: also to be located in the Friarsgate area, the park will be installed in a 9-acre tract. It will be an all-concrete structure that can accommodate skaters ranging in ability from athletes to beginners and curiosity-seekers. The council expects this project will have a positive effect on homeowner property values.

In the photo are Optimist Club President Larry Blosser, Mayor Walker, and speaker sponsor David Deal, who presented Walker with a copy of the Optimist Creed.