Wow, here I am writing my next to last mayor’s message. I would like to say that time has flown by, but over the last two years, it’s been pretty slow, and thanks to social media, added to the issues posed by the unbridled growth around the tri-counties to both the SCDOT and its committee chairman, these last two years have been challenging. However, I would not have traded this opportunity to serve my community for anything.
In fact, by the time this paper is printed, we will have had our elections and will have a new mayor and four new council members. Hopefully, they will continue to work toward uniting our community, toward overturning Senate Bill 40, and reversing the disaster of taking away the emergency lane on the IOP Connector. I send positive thoughts toward whomever gets elected and thanks to those who ran. Let me zero in on my above statements. Mount Pleasant alone was the state’s fastest growing city, almost doubling in size every decade. From the 2010 census to 2019, it grew from 67,843 to 91,684. Now, add in the growth of Charleston county according to the 2020 census of 416,590, Berkeley county’s 234,632 and Dorchester County’s 164,900 and you can see we now have a metropolis of over 800,000 and we will be hitting a million in just a few short years. The 9,000 acre development up Highway 41 called Cainhoy Plantation will easily push us over the million mark, not to mention the growth up in the Nexton with 10,000 homes and apartments. Please don’t take me wrong; growth is good, but unbridled growth, without the proper infrastructure, is a disaster. Look at the gridlock on our highways all around tri-counties. Plus, there are always the beaches that everyone uses in their advertising campaigns, “the beaches are only 15 miles or less away.” Well, our beaches are not growing, and at high tide, they are overwhelmed. The same is playing out across our country; the National Parks are now being forced to limit how many visitors can come in, otherwise, we are losing the experience of these natural parks. We have 4.5 miles of accessible beach parking on the Isle of Palms, 3 miles on Sullivan’s Island, and maybe 5 miles on Folly Beach; that is only 12.5 miles of beach.
And yes, one can drive down to Edisto, but it’s a little bit of a drive. While I cannot directly quote the statistics of the other islands, the Isle of Palms has 56 beach accesses, four handicap beach paths, 4.5 acres of parking in our public lot that we bought in 1987 for parking. That was such incredible forward thinking. But we also have front beach restrooms, outdoor showers and a great board walk to the beach for this parking. According to the Beachfront Management Act, we are required to have six parking spaces for every 1/8th of a mile, which equates to 48 spaces per mile (or 4.5 miles times 48 is 216 parking spaces). We exceed the required amount by 800%, not to mention Charleston County’s 9.28 acre oceanfront park with parking for 441 cars. Sadly, due to the unbridled growth across the tri counties, the pressure is being put on the beaches which are not growing. Most people fail to realize that the beach communities are just that, communities that have public beaches between the high tide line and low tide line. There is not enough for everyone to come at the same time. Same thing applies to our waterways; they are becoming increasingly dangerous due to more and more people buying boats with huge engines, yet no one has to take a boater’s safety course, a recipe for disaster. Let’s not forget social media. When it first started, it was used to connect people to old friends, see birthdays, anniversaries and such. Now, it is all about division, derogatory comments and worse. Most people would not say to someone’s face what they say on social media. Please watch two shows; one was the Netflix special called “The Social Dilemma.” To access the other one, you have to go to YouTube to watch the “60 Minutes” segment of Facebook’s whistleblower. If these don’t wake you up, then, I feel for you. Sadly, social media has become about division, when we should be coming together to solve issues, not creating issues. As for the Isle of Palms, I could not be prouder of our being a leader in environmental actions. We were the first to sign up with the South Carolina Environmental Law Project to fight offshore drilling and seismic testing. We were the first beachfront community to ban plastic bags, and later plastic straws, cups, straws and Styrofoam on our beaches. We banned smoking on the beaches; the microplastics were severely impacting our seashore and our marine life. We just created a citizens environmental committee to see what we can do to protect more and take positive actions for sea level rise and resilience. I will be offering them $2,500 if they work toward a project to install irrigation and plant trees in our ugly public parking lot as my farewell gift to the island. Our last city event for the year will be the Holiday Street Lighting Festival with rides for the kids, vendors selling their goods just in time for Christmas, live entertainment, food galore, and of course, Santa Claus! This will be at Front Beach on Dec. 4 from 2-7 p.m. Please come and let’s have fun!
Thank you all again, and in the meantime, have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Don’t forget, we always have residents drop off plates of food for our city employees at the Public Service Building. Someone will start a list of food items needed; I have already pledged a 20-pound turkey. Please don’t drop off plates that need to be returned as it’s just too much to keep up with. Cheers!