By Susan Hill Smith, Island Eye News Staff Writer
Could a farmer’s market sprout on Isle of Palms? Mayor Dick Cronin opened the door to that possibility at the March 21 City Council meeting.
Dr. Lewis Gregory, a member of the city’s Planning Commission and an island resident the past 12 years, presented the idea during the period for citizens’ comments. “I think it’s a great initiative for us to push forward,” he said.
Gregory said he received a “very positive response” when he suggested the idea to members of the Isle of Palms community on the Next Door online site. He also went to Lisa Darrow, manager of the Sullivan’s Island Farmers’ Market, which debuted last year, and she shared many of her materials with him, including the market’s vendor application.
“They’ve pretty much done it all for us already,” said Gregory, holding up a thick packet of documents to the council.
Sullivan’s Island Farmers’ Market is “what they call a short market,” he added. “They decided to start in April and end in June. So I think it would be nice if we dovetailed our program, maybe August through October, or something like that so we wouldn’t be competing.”
As far as location, Gregory suggested holding the market at Isle of Palms Recreation Department “or some other spot.”
In response, the mayor said the city would create a group to investigate the idea and invite Gregory and others who had expressed interest.
“One caution,” Cronin said. “This was discussed and studied by some citizens, I can’t remember, a couple of years ago, and it became apparent that we did not want to do anything to injure existing businesses.”
While Gregory said he had considered Harris Teeter, Cronin indicated other businesses could be impacted as well, including a butcher’s shop and a bakery that are both expected to open on the island. “We need to support them 12 months out of the year,” Cronin said, “but there’s still room.”
ECLIPSE EVENT UPDATE
Recreation Director Norma Jean Page said the city has been told to expect crowds that exceed the island’s Fourth of July celebration when a historic total eclipse cuts coast-to-coast across America Aug. 21 and makes its exit from the Charleston area.
Isle of Palms will be among the local communities that experience the last seconds of the total eclipse and will be the final municipality in the country to see the end of the partial eclipse phase later in the afternoon, according to calculations by College of Charleston Professor Terry Richardson.
The entire eclipse, including partial phases, will last from 1:17 to 4:10 p.m. on Isle of Palms.
The total eclipse will happen close to halfway in, and on Isle of Palms totality will range from 1 minute, 50 seconds at Breach Inlet bridge, to slightly more than 2 minutes, 8 seconds at the island’s northeastern tip. The maximum time of totality any area will experience in America is 2 minutes, 41 seconds.
Isle of Palms Recreation staff members are in the midst of planning a Front Beach eclipse celebration and are shaping the details to suit the unusual nature of the event. Rather than a street festival, which could get unbearably hot in August, Page said the event will be held on the beach itself and will run from late morning to late afternoon Aug. 21.
“We’re trying to be creative. We want to have a little bit of education along with the fun, along with the viewing. It’s a delicate balance,” Page told the council. During total eclipse, many may want it to be quiet.
Page came to the podium as a result of questions by Councilmember Sandy Ferencz about costs. In January, Isle of Palms City Council approved spending $15,000 in accommodations tax revenue on the event.
However, minutes given to council of a recent ATAX Committee suggested that it had set aside up to $30,000 for the eclipse, and that an event planner had been consulted.
Ferencz questioned whether the city needed to spend the extra money if demand is already high for island accommodations around the time of the eclipse. “We don’t have to have an event to get them to come to the island. They’re going to be here.”
Page indicated that she did not expect to spend the full $30,000 on the eclipse event, but she felt like the city needed some outside advice to get this right because of the unique circumstances. The city wants to “build this up because we won’t see this again in our lifetime,” she said.
• Issued a Holocaust remembrance proclamation.
• Voted to rescind a cap on increases in stormwater utility fees for non-residential parcels of land. The council originally approved a cap in November, but reversed itself because of financial and environmental concerns.
• Gave second-reading approval to parking plan changes for 2017 with a vote of 8-1. Ferencz voted against the changes after asking questions about vehicles with boat trailers being allowed to park along some sections of 41st Avenue as well as Waterway Boulevard, where that privilege will only be given to vehicles with a resident decal.
• Awarded an unbudgeted contract not to exceed $20,070 to JMT for construction oversight and monitoring of marina bulkhead repairs that are not part of the larger redevelopment plan that’s being developed.
• Awarded a $25,100 contract for July 4th fireworks to Munnerlyn Pyrotechnics, the company that did last year’s popular show, and a $15,000 contract to A&H Company to fabricate and install added beach parking signs.