By Katy Calloway, The Island Eye News Editor
The regularly scheduled meeting of the Sullivan’s Island Town Council was called to order at 6 p.m. on Aug 15.
Comments from the community opened the meeting, with residents expressing concerns about recent flooding, particularly at Station 22 between Atlantic and Pettigrew.
Mr. Guckenberger, addressing Council, thought perhaps the excessive flooding is an “unforeseen consequence” of the work being done on the sewer system in the area. Mayor O’Neill responded stating the issue falls under the purview of the Public Facilities Committee, which may provide information during its report.
Everett Presson was next to address Council asking if it would, “Begin the process of banning Styrofoam coolers, containers and cups on the beach and at point of sale within town limits.” Presson cited other coastal communities that have initiated the ban with success, including Folly Beach, where Styrofoam, plastic bags and balloons have all been banned.
According to Presson, “The [Folly] businesses got on board. There has been a marked reduction in both Styrofoam and litter in general because the community is becoming more aware of the problem.” Presson asked Council to either appoint a blue ribbon committee so that citizens may look at the problem and propose suggestions, or have the appropriate Town committee take 60 days to assess and respond.
Presson’s plea was followed by Kate Jeffries, a 16 year-old Porter Gaud student who took a break from completing her summer school work to address Council and ask that it also consider a ban on plastic bags, a campaign her older sister had begun two years ago. Jeffries comments were followed by audience applause.
Dr. Nicole Elko then presented the results of the 2017 Beach Monitoring Survey that her company, Coastal Consulting, performed for the Town. This is the second year for the survey, performed in June, prior to the start of hurricane season. Dr. Elko concluded that Sullivan’s Island has, “very healthy, wide beaches with lots of sand on them.” Welcome news to those who have beachfront property.
The surveys will provide baseline and ongoing data to measure changes in the shoreline, including erosion patterns and sandbar growth.
The Mayor’s Report included the Town’s plans for the eclipse on Aug. 21, outlining safety measures that were being implemented to manage the crowds and traffic.
There were no Boards and Commissions Reports after Zoning Administrator, Joe Henderson revealed it had been a very quite month.
Moving on to Committee Reports, Jason Blanton, Comptroller, reported on behalf of the Finance Committee that the new financial software is up and running. The June financial statements were reviewed and it was reported that the 2016 audit is ongoing and will probably continue through the end of August.
Councilmember Mark Howard reported on a very productive meeting of the Public Facilities Committee as was evidenced by the number of motions he was about to bring to Council. The Committee has been looking at stormwater and will be dealing with it as a separate issue at its next meeting. Councilmember Smith added that the committee is monitoring 17 different sites for stormwater management and various grants are being considered to address certain areas, as well as a grant to conduct an island wide engineering study to evaluate the interconnectedness of basins.
Howard followed with a motion to prepare a Request for Proposals for a suitable storage structure for department equipment, and site recommendations to address department needs. The motion passed unanimously. Howard’s second motion was to prepare an RFP for fire station maintenance repairs.
Councilmember Smith clarified that “maintenance” included critical needs and that a wholesale renovation would be considered at a time when Council was in a better financial position.
A number of concerns were discussed, including the cost of materials, need for sprayfoam insulation and window upgrades.
Councilmember Clark remarked, “We have not maintained this building like it should have been maintained.” The motion passed unanimously.
A third motion was presented to accept the old bridge pier study by Kimley-Horn & Associates, Inc. The study examined the old bridge landing at Station 9, which Howard would like to see preserved from erosion and stabilized for safety and walkability. Councilmember Smith clarified that the purpose of the Kimley-Horn study was to determine if the old bridge was safe. He continued, “I am not willing to accept it is inherently unsafe as it exists today. I am not willing to accept that there is a severe erosion issue.” Howard tabled the motion, “for the time being.”
Howard’s fourth and final motion was to enter into negotiations for a lease for the old town hall with the American Military Museum.
Councilmember Clark provided background on the Museum, which is currently located inside the Citadel Mall in West Ashley.
Numerous concerns were raised by nearly all councilmembers including: the need for rezoning, the forfeited potential for revenue, (the Museum lease would be $1 annually), the displaying of military artifacts amid a national concern over Confederate relics, and legal ramifications of potentially inadequate mold mitigation. Mayor O’Neil requested a more complete proposal. The motion was tabled.
Councilmember Langley reported that the Land Use and Natural Resources Committee will be having an open house on Oct. 18 for the Town Commons plan.
She added that the committee will be discussing polystyrene (Styrofoam) at their next meeting.
Councilmember Smith stated the next meeting of the Water and Sewer Committee will be dedicated to the presentation of the feasibility studies between the 100 and 500 year plan for the new sewer plant. “It will give us definite directions as to where we’re going and when we are going to start work on the plant,” he said. Smith then reported that Charleston Water & Sewer needs to move water to Mount Pleasant via a subsurface water line using Sullivan’s Island land to supply that capacity. “This is not a contractual matter right now, this is simply a matter of allowing them to come out with a smaller truck to take some core samples with a small bucket loader and dig a couple of areas,” Smith said. The samples will be taken from an area behind Stith Park and another at the old dump site. The sampling would take one day at each site. A motion for geotechnical sampling to assess viability of two possible routes for a subsurface waterline was approved unanimously.
On behalf of the Public Safety Committee, Andy Benke informed Council that the Town is now providing Air Meducare membership coverage for all island residents to receive benefits. If an islander has a life threatening or limb-threatening incident, residents may be transported by air to the hospital.
Residents will be receiving letters by mail from Air Meducare outlining coverage and upgrade options. Kiawah, Seabrook and Isle of Palms currently offer this service to residents.
The last report was from the Recreation Committee. Given by Councilmember Sarah Church it ended the meeting with a highlight. Both parks are now receiving routine maintenance, and Poe Park is awaiting all new playground equipment, which should be delivered any day.
With no further business, the meeting was adjourned. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 6 p.m.