By Emma Woodham, Staff Writer for The Island Eye News
Attendance was higher than usual at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Sullivan’s Island Town Council on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Mayor Pat O’Neil welcomed everyone, including former Sullivan’s Island mayor Carl Smith.
Following the invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance, the mayor asked for citizens’ comments. Rick Graham of 2102 I’on St. spoke regarding the town’s concerns about boats parking in the vacant lot space near the old town hall. He mentioned that the town is worried about the liability issue of boat parking in that location, and he pointed out that there are other areas around the island that the council should pay attention to as well for the same liability reasons. Following Mr. Graham’s comments, Mayor O’Neil swore in Chris Griffin as Police Chief. Chief Griffin had been the Acting Police Chief for many months during the search for candidates, but the search committee ultimately decided Griffin was the right choice for the position.
“We had a large response, but we found out that the best candidate was right upstairs,” O’Neil said. After swearing in Steward Sparks, a new reserve police officer, Stephen Dunbar as a new police officer, and Courtney Liles as the Town Clerk, Mayor O’Neil asked those in attendance for a moment of silence to commemorate the twenty residents or former residents of Sullivan’s Island who passed away in 2017. Once the minutes from the January meeting were approved, Mayor O’Neil presented the third reading of the amendment to Ordinance 2017-06 which pertains to dog permits and badges. The amendment will not change the current cost of the dog permits, but will make it easier for the council to change the fees if they choose to.
Councilmember Mark Howard was not in favor of the amendment because he feels that the process of three readings allows plenty of time for the public to be made aware of the proposed changes. Councilmember Tim Reese said that he isn’t planning to raise fees for residents of the island. He is concerned that the dog feces often left on the beaches are the result of the 2300 off-island dogs who are licensed on Sullivan’s Island. The amendment passed 4-3, opposed by Councilmembers Howard, Church, and Smith. In the Public Facilities report, Councilmember Howard stated that repairs will begin soon on the fire station. He also introduced the topic of awarding a contract for the task of removing vegetation around Battery Gadsden, adding that the funds are set aside in the budget for the job. The contract award will be discussed further at the next workshop meeting. Councilmember Rita Langley reported on the Land & Natural Resources Committee, noting that they discussed the idea of banning plastic bags on the island. Nothing was decided, and discussion on the topic will continue. Councilmember Smith reported that the updates to the water treatment facility are now in the financing stage, and Councilmember Chauncey Clark stated that the Public Safety Committee is still reviewing ways to improve boat trailer parking and Uber dropoffs on the island. In addition, the committee is working to develop a comprehensive plan to work out all of these issues. Councilmember Church presented the report from the Recreation Committee, stating that the deadline for the 2018 Farmers Market vendor applications has passed and now the review process for each vendor has begun. St. Paddy’s in the Park will be March 17 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. in Stith Park. Church also noted that she will be seeking more bids on the cost of fixing the erosion issues in the bamboo grove area near the Mound. The committee is also looking at using some of the Recreation budget to help upgrade the electrical system at Battery Gadsden and add two HVAC units. Church proposed that she authorize staff to research the cost of these upgrades, and the motion passed. Lastly, the committee is researching the cost of adding Pickleball lines to one of the town’s tennis courts.
The council adjourned to executive session, and the next meeting will be on Tuesday, March 20 at 6 p.m.