Thursday, March 13, 2014
Just a few decades ago sailors and other rowdy characters looking to have themselves a good time with nearly every type of illicit activity could do so at a string of bars and shops near the southern entrance of Goose Creek.
The place was known as “The Corner,” “The Strip” or “The Triangle.”
That's where about five bars and a former sheriff caused mayhem and mischief on Redbank Road near South Goose Creek Boulevard.
Goose Creek Mayor Michel Heitzler and Councilmember Marguerite Brown recognized this was a problem for the image of the city. They made it their goal to annex the property into city limits, buy the property and demolish the buildings – or at least make sure they were not blatantly breaking the law.
“Mrs. Brown and I and the council from 35 years ago set out with three overriding desires for the city: one, take down those bars; two, consolidate the Goose Creek area to a greater municipality; three, make the community a place where people are proud to reside,” Heitzler said.
On Feb. 28 the city bought the last piece of “The Corner” property for $195,000.
On this property sits a beige windowless building that last operated as The Village Social Club for 15 or 20 years, according to Heitzler.
“This will mean a lot to old Goose Creekers,” Heitzler said. “This was the embarrassment. There was a liquor store on the end and then five bars coming out one after the other.
“Five bars and I know them well. These places were replete with bar fights.
“It was glaringly right in the heart of the city even though it was not in the city limits.
It was made up of a number of bars where gambling occurred.
“Eight years ago when we annexed it into the city we were able to enforce the law and the last of the operations closed down. It was a site of racketeering and a whole host of illegal activities.”
Former Berkeley County Sheriff Jimmy Rogers was taking payoffs, Heitzler said.
Mayor Heitzler put a committee together to get Berkeley County to enforce the law.
Rogers was convicted of racketeering and sent to state prison, Heitzler said.
The current auto loan building once had a bar downstairs and working girls upstairs, Heitzler said.
An adult bookstore across the street had booths, Heitzler added. A trailer with working girls was located near the bookstore.
In addition to prostitution, there was illegal and untaxed sales of alcohol and tobacco.
“The laws were not being enforced,” Heitzler said. “This is one of those emotional triumphs. We've been working on this a long time.”
In Heitzler's 2006 book “Goose Creek: A Definitive History, Vol. II” he wrote:
“Another series of events in the early 1980s set a longterm course that further defined the people of Goose Creek. A group of Goose Creek citizens formed a task force to improve conditions at a collection of bars and adult-use establishments contiguous but outside of the city limits commonly referred to as the ‘corner' or ‘strip.'”
The 11 citizens who composed the task force elected Mayor Heitzler as the chairman. The Rev. Robert Nix represented Goose Creek Ministerial Association. Other members included Darrel Eidem, Jim Soapes, John Thompson, Hank Niles, Beth King, Julie Droze, Ruth Potts, Ben Hooper, Merrill Cox and Mike Miller served as representatives of schools, businesses and county council.