From The Daniel Island News|
Mac McBride to pass reins at Daniel Island Neighborhood Assoc.
By Elizabeth Bush
Jan 2, 2013 - 9:13:37 AM
There are a couple of songs Mac McBride hopes to learn to play on the piano, grandchildren he’d love to see more often, and travel destinations he and his wife, Linda, would like to visit. The Daniel Island resident will soon have more time to take part in those activities, when he officially steps down next week after completing his final term as president of the Daniel Island Neighborhood Association (DINA), a position he has filled three times since the organization began.
Those who know McBride well know he is passionate about his community. Representing his neighbors on Daniel Island is a job he never took lightly – but it is also one that he never felt he did alone.
“The biggest thing was showing people that working together we all win, versus trying to oppose each other,” said McBride, who retired from his professional life several years ago after a successful career as an accountant and financial advisor. “And it doesn’t work unless (all parties) are fully in it, and fully trusting of each other.”
Seeking to ensure that Daniel Islanders had a voice on matters concerning them, McBride became the very first president of DINA in 1998. Today, DINA is one of more than 100 neighborhood associations represented in the City of Charleston Neighborhood Council, a group formed by Mayor Joe Riley. At the end of his inaugural term, McBride was involved in DINA “off and on” over the next decade. In 2010, at the request of Jimmy Bailey, then vice president of community services for the Daniel Island Property Owners Association, McBride decided to throw his hat into the ring for a second term as president.
“It was pretty obvious the city was not meeting its commitments to the Daniel Island community in several areas,” McBride said. “…One of the most pressing at that point was Governors Park, which we viewed as an economic need as well as a community recreational (need).”
As DINA’s newly elected chief in early 2011, McBride stood alongside the Daniel Island Company in urging the city to finish the long-awaited new park.
“It was so much easier for me to play bad cop (with the city),” recalled McBride, of his teaming with Bailey to push the city to get the park done. “It worked so much better with both of us pulling on one end of the rope.”
There were other issues to work through as well. With help from his fellow DINA board members and DINA committee chairs, McBride worked with the city to improve street striping in areas where fading lines were creating safety hazards. He also took a detailed inventory of places where additional street lights were needed, ultimately taking city officials around for a tour to prove his point.
“Somebody over in Cochran Park had lived there 10 years with a pole in front of their house and no light on it!” added McBride. “I said ‘guys, you’ve got to be able to make some sort of exception, all of these lots are owned and all have been paying city taxes for ten years.’”
Under McBride’s leadership, and extensive work from DINA Safety Chair Dave Williams, DINA also took on the issue of street safety. Their work led to the creation of one-sided street parking in many areas across the island, the implementation of which is ongoing. Williams, who is now running to serve as McBride’s successor, has continued to tackle safety issues, including the need for crosswalks, additional stop signs, and other traffic-related concerns.
McBride, who was re-elected as DINA president in January 2012, also felt that maintenance of city-owned trees on the island could be improved. Asking the question “Why are we any different on Daniel Island,” McBride and other DINA representatives fought to get the equal treatment they felt the island deserved from the city.
“It’s just foolish for a community not to avail themselves of that,” said McBride, of city services. “You’re paying taxes. Why shouldn’t you get the city services that are promised and paid for? Why shouldn’t we get those?”
The city stepped up and took responsibility for the trees, McBride said. A group of island volunteers led by Bob Sauer now trims the trees while the city maintains oversight of the project. In yet another attempt to equalize services, McBride questioned the city on why free Wi-Fi service was being offered at Marion Square downtown and not at Daniel Island’s Governors Park. At Mac’s prodding on behalf of DINA, a joint effort between the city, the Charleston Digital Corridor and Home Telecom led to the establishment of free web surfing at the park last summer.
In each case of hard-fought improvement, McBride is quick to point out that nothing could have been accomplished without all entities working together. In the process of working to dissolve tensions and improve communications, he earned the respect of many of those he encountered. When asked if it’s comforting to know that many in city government now know his name, McBride smiled and said that while that can be beneficial, it’s not what means the most to him.
“I think the thing I cherish most is that…yes, they know it’s Mac on the line and yes, they know Mac’s a hard nose and direct, but he’s going to be respectful. He’s not going to criticize us, he’s not going to embarrass us….I was able to voice (our concerns) but I was only able to voice these things because of being president of the neighborhood association. If I’d been down there as Mac McBride the individual, they would have shushed me out of the office.”
McBride is also proud to have enhanced the organizational structure of DINA during his tenure. Not only did he help grow the membership, up from a modest number of paid members when he took office to over 200 today, but he also helped establish a healthy committee-based association that leads through the efforts of its members.
“That is something that was one of my primary goals,” he recalled. “I told people from meeting one that we would operate in the committee structure, and the strength of the organization will be the committees….I am very pleased now that we have people who will continue on.”
McBride is one of those people. At his suggestion, all outgoing presidents will now stay on the DINA board for one year to assist the new officers. McBride looks forward to staying involved, albeit in an advisory role. He is confident the new board will not miss a beat.
“The board is extremely well qualified and they’re not afraid to speak up!” he said.
Even though his list of DINA accomplishments is long, there are still a few issues McBride would like to see resolved. He hopes to see the addition of a community or recreational building on the island, as well as the creation of another promised city park. Although he and his fellow DINA members worked diligently with the city on both efforts, neither has come to fruition. Continued traffic concerns at Daniel Island Drive and Seven Farms Drive are also worth targeting, he said.
For now, though, McBride is content to let others take the lead while he enjoys the things he’s been putting off these last couple of years. There are other matters beckoning his attention, like that baby grand piano off his living room. And this dedicated community volunteer is all too happy to finally get a chance to face the music.
DINA will hold its first meeting of 2013 on Tuesday, Jan. 8, at 7 pm at The Church of the Holy Cross on Daniel Island. An election of four new officers will take place at the meeting. A complimentary buffet to celebrate a new year of service to the community will also be offered. For additional information, contact Bob Graham at firstname.lastname@example.org or (843) 278-2900.
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