By Gregg Bragg, The Island Eye News Staff Writer
Isle of Palms Mayor Jimmy Carroll is always available, and indulged Island Eye News with an interview highlighting the accomplishments made by city council during its meeting of May 28.
- A semi-new town administrator
- Kevin Cornett sworn in as the city’s Chief of Police
- Flood prevention measures
- Improvements to SC 511
- An enhanced plastics ban
- Construction work conducted at night on the island
The last item was among the most contested issues to come before City Council in a while; a request for night work at Wild Dunes was resolved during the meeting. The task would require a steady stream of trucks bringing construction materials to the far end of the island. Developers argued the work would go more smoothly and be far less intrusive if done at night. Council voted down the request in an 8-1 vote, with Councilmember Ted Kinghorn the only vote in favor of the request.
Mayor Carroll sounded thrilled to report the official promotion of Desirée Fragoso to the level of City Administrator (CA) following an 8-1 vote (Councilmember Ferencz was the only “nay”). Fragoso has served as the interim CA for the past year. She did so while working her designated job of assistant CA along with additional roles as social media consultant, working for 9 bosses (councilmembers/mayor), liaison to public safety building contractor Trident Construction, liaison to ATM Dock Designers, liaison to marina tenants and handling two hurricane events.
“From my point of view, she handles everything perfectly, with grace, a smile, and an eagerness to get answers to the numerous questions posed by councilmembers,” said Carroll.
“Now that we have our leadership positions filled, we can really get down to running our City. Desirée will be hiring an assistant so we can keep our data up to date. I am excited by all we have accomplished this past year,” the mayor added.
The City took action to mitigate flooding by voting in favor of a reduction in developed lot coverage from 40% down to 35%. Mayor Carroll added that the City plans to mandate the use of pervious materials in new construction for such things as driveways. The combination of reduced lot coverage and the use of pervious materials on the section of lots that are covered, will improve the City’s capacity to absorb floodwaters and help combat sea level rise.
The City also moved to implement single file, parallel parking along Palm Blvd. with interior spaces reserved for residents, strengthened their plastics ban to be consistent with their neighbors on Sullivan’s Island, and improved SCDOT 511 to facilitate visits to the beach and a mechanism to inform them in advance when the beach is full, to mitigate traffic congestion.
“Our biggest three challenges are the major repairs needed on our public safety building, picking between 3 designs for phase III drainage outfalls, and getting a permit for rebuilding the marina docks, which take up to a year. Yes, we inherited a ton of challenges, but we’re getting it done,” said Carroll.
City Council did not have the first reading of the budget for fiscal year 2020 in advance of the July first deadline (see related story in this issue of Island Eye news).
“We are having another budget workshop due to the 3 major projects. We’ll start the drainage outfalls as soon as Thomas & Hutton finish their work. Work on the public safety building will [probably] begin early next year, and the permitting for the docks will probably take a year. We’re going to do as much as we can with what we have, but we have to be prepared for a tax increase. That would be our last choice, but we have to be prepared for that if the need arises. We can’t spend everything we have. We have to set up a building maintenance fund, and we have to keep enough money on hand for emergencies. This council is one that looks to the future and [keeping] what we have. So we have to have another work session before passing the budget,” Carroll stated.
Visit the City’s website for more information on the dates and times of upcoming meetings at IOP.net.