Dear Island Neighbors,
Well, here we are on the downhill side of summer, with school back in session and college football right around the corner. Note I said nothing about the end of the heat. Do we get a “cool week of August” this year? There’s still time.
And re. college football: As always, not that I’m a politician or anything, but you may rest assured that I support YOUR team, whichever it is. (Well… unless they play my beloved LSU Tigers.)
Last month I asked for feedback on whether the Town should address the matter of plastics that may find their way into the marsh, creeks, ocean and beaches. The responses were few but unanimous, in favor of doing something. The Land Use and Natural Resources (LUNR) Committee of Town Council met last week and took up the issue to begin assessing our best path forward on this important but surprisingly complicated matter. Please check in with the Town website to see what happens next, or email me.
Now some other updates…
RAIN, RAIN, FLOODING, FLOODING
Over the end of July and beginning of August, our low-lying, flat island had about 17 inches of rain within about 2 weeks. A number of areas of the island had flooded streets, which in some cases overflowed into yards and otherwise impeded homeowners’ access to their homes. Also, in a number of instances, the state-owned public rights-of-way in front of homes, where parking is permitted, turned into mudpits after parked cars came and went (or tried to “went”).
At our Council committees’ workshop on August 6, we heard very understandable concerns of a number of residents affected by this. Here’s a little background, followed by planned actions to address some of these problems.
First, please understand that most of the paved roads within the Town are owned by the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT). They also own the rest of the rights-of-way (shoulders, up to private property lines) and the entire stormwater collection infrastructure (ditches and culverts, where they exist). At the risk of looking like we are pointing fingers, it is a fact that the Town does not own these roads and rights-of-way, and cannot intrude on them without specific SCDOT permission.
Nonetheless, we communicate with SCDOT about their infrastructure, especially when we are experiencing heavy rains and flooding.
During those 17 inches of rain in much less than a month, the aged stormwater system clearly was not up to the task, causing the aforementioned problems. Our Town staff met with SCDOT to discuss the worst areas, and were told SCDOT would have a crew on the island during the week of August 13 to perform maintenance work on some of the ditches and culverts that are not properly flowing. Additionally, the Department was to bring its pipe camera to assess several sections of pipes and outfalls (pipes that empty into the marsh) that are not working properly. This will not solve all our problems, but is a promising part of a solution.
We also encourage any resident with a problem regarding the SCDOT stormwater system (ditches, culverts, rights of way) to submit your problem to SCDOT via their website at: bit.ly/SI-ROW.
Don’t be shy, but please remember that your report is the first step in what may be a lengthy process, given SCDOT’s limited resources. These folks are doing the best they can with the resources the state affords them.
But if they don’t hear about it, they can’t start the process. And trust me, problem reports from 20 different residents carry far more weight than a single report from the Town about those 20 problems!
It’s politics, folks…
KNOCKING ON THE POLICE DEPARTMENT DOOR…FROM THE SIDEWALK
You may have seen the new “Assistance” call box off Middle Street between Town Hall and the Fire Station. Chief Chris Griffin initiated this access for people in the area to contact our police department for, as it says, assistance. It is NOT only for emergencies!
If you are near the call box and have a question or concern for an officer, think of this as a way of just knocking on the door of the police department upstairs. If you punch the button, you will be connected with a non-emergency operator at the County Consolidated Dispatch Center who will patch you through to an officer upstairs in the Police Department, or one who is nearby in a cruiser. They can then assist you.
MORE NO-PARKING SECTIONS OF MIDDLE STREET
A couple of years ago we limited parking on Middle Street in the commercial district to one side, to permit safe and swift passage of our emergency response vehicles of the Fire and Police Departments on crowded beach days. Recently, we started to expand this one-sideonly area of Middle to go from Station 18 to Station 26, at the urging of Fire Chief Anthony Stith. Chief Stith reported that his crew several times had been impeded by Middle Street traffic when responding to emergencies. Remember that they do not only respond to fire calls but also potential drownings and cardiac arrests in any of our homes or elsewhere on the Island.
In these instances, seconds really do count.
We hope that this will enhance our emergency response times for residents and visitors.
Please let me know what you think about this change. See you around the Island!
Pat O’Neil, Mayor