Cottontown/Bellevue Historic District
October 30, 2018
To: Lindsey Ott, Principal Clear Dot Charter School
Rick Ott, V.P. M.B. Kahn Construction
Lindsey and Rick,
While the Cottontown Neighborhood Association continues to support and encourage the best
education opportunities for Columbia’s children, we remain deeply concerned over the proposed
Clear Dot Charter School at the former Jim Moore Cadillac site. After Clear Dot and M.B. Kahn
visited with the Cottontown Neighborhood Association board on October 8th, the Cottontown
Neighborhood Association issued a letter formally expressing several concerns regarding adverse
effects to the neighborhood resulting from the location of the Clear Dot Charter School at the
former Jim Moore Cadillac site. Briefly, our concerns remain: increased traffic on Cottontown
and nearby city streets, the lack of adequate parking for school events, the site location of service
entrances and areas for the school, the construction and development process in general, and the
effect that the school will have on the relatively new entertainment and services commercial area
near the school. On October 10th, Ms. Ott delivered a letter of response to our concerns which
offered only suggestions, speculation, and no concrete solutions to our concerns. Thus the
Cottontown Neighborhood Association has had further discussions on this matter.
Our primary concern over the location of the school is the increase in traffic within the
neighborhood and surrounding major traffic arteries during the morning rush hour and then later
throughout the afternoon each weekday as a direct result of Clear Dot’s stated business model of
enrolling a majority of students whose parents commute to work from outside the city of
Columbia. The introduction of up to 1000 vehicles (a conservative estimate) on Elmwood,
Main, Sumter, Scott, and other streets would create a line of vehicles stacking on these streets,
blocking lanes of traffic not only for Cottontown residents and businesses, but also for other
users of these critical Columbia corridors. Clear Dot has proposed 1500 linear feet for on-site
traffic. This model accommodates approximately 100 vehicles that would be stopping to drop
off and pick up students. That leaves hundreds of vehicles stacked on surrounding streets
waiting to enter the property every weekday morning and throughout each weekday afternoon.
We do not believe that simply staggering drop off and pick up times would alleviate this
condition. The Cottontown Neighborhood Association strongly urges the South Carolina
Department of Transportation to demand that Clear Dot choose a more appropriate location that can better accommodate the number of vehicles associated with a school of this size.
In addition, Clear Dot’s size and business model results in the antithesis of a community school. While Clear Dot would be located in Cottontown, Cottontown children would only represent a tiny number of the 1300 students enrolled. A true community school would have engaged with the surrounding neighborhoods early in the development process in order to determine the size that the school should be in order to be appropriate in scale to the community. It seems that Clear Dot has determined that the size of 1300 students, while not appropriate for Cottontown, is appropriate to furnish the funding necessary for the development of the former Jim Moore Cadillac site and the operation of a school located on over five acres.
The Cottontown Neighborhood Association recognizes that there is a need for an alternative education choice for parents of school-aged children in downtown Columbia. However, the school that Clear Dot proposes is not the appropriate size to locate in Cottontown. Additionally, the Cottontown Neighborhood Association realizes that Clear Dot never intended for the school to be a true community school. Rather, Clear Dot (and its backers) chose a size and location of primary benefit to themselves and not to our community. Therefore, the Cottontown Neighborhood Association board has voted unanimously to oppose the location of the Clear Dot Charter School at the former Jim Moore Cadillac site.
Cottontown/Bellevue Historic District Neighborhood Association