By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News
The two major parties in the ever-evolving and eternally complicated parking saga at the Isle of Palms Marina have apparently come to an agreement. Though one of them says ambiguity remains and the other doesn’t care to comment on the situation. The city of Isle of Palms, meanwhile, has abandoned its role as a mediator, claiming 16 parking spots reserved for island residents and leaving the soon-to-be-opened Islander 71 restaurant and IOP Marina Manager Brian Berrigan to work out the details between themselves. Berrigan chose not to comment on the situation, while Jon Bushnell, one of the owners of the new eatery, said there is “still some ambiguity around the usage of the parking lot.” At an April 19 meeting of the IOP Council’s Ways and Means Committee, Council members voiced their opposition to a memorandum of understanding among the city, Marina Joint Ventures, Inc. – represented by Berrigan – and Marker 116 LLC, which owns the restaurant. Under the temporary agreement, which would have ended in October, the city retained only five parking spaces for residents, including two handicap spots. For some members of the Council, that was enough to reject the proposal. “The residents hold those 16 spots dear, and they should,” Council Member Katie Miars said. “There’s no way we should give up those spots.” “Those 16 spots for residents are sacred ground,” Council Member John Bogosian said. “We should tie them to the public dock.” Council Member Scott Pierce questioned why the city needed to be involved in a dispute between tenants at the Marina. “We were attempting to be a facilitator between two tenants that, quite honestly, couldn’t stand in a room together,” Mayor Phillip Pounds said. Two Council members, Jan Anderson and Blair Hahn, placed much of the blame for the parking situation at the Marina on Berrigan. “I do not like the idea of ceding any kind of use of parking that is for residents to a questionable Marina manager who has always taken his side on everything and never given us any advantage in anything there yet,” Anderson said. Hahn said, “One of the issues that seems to be recurring is that the parking manager is the sticking point here. I would suggest that we change the parking manager. There’s nothing that I understand would stop us from doing so. I would suggest that we look at having a third party as the parking manager so we can get away from this tit for tat happening every time we do anything at the Marina.”
Pounds said the Council would ask for legal advice at its next meeting to see “what we can do and cannot do.” The item was listed on the Council’s executive session of its April 26 meeting, but, when Council members returned from behind closed doors, they took no action concerning the status of the Marina manager. During the April 26 Council meeting, Pounds announced that a memorandum of understanding regarding parking had been executed by the two Marina tenants. And that the city would retain 16 spots for island residents and that there would be 45 to 50 spaces for restaurant patrons to park for free – as well as 14 spaces for golf carts near the entrance to the Marina. According to Bushnell, there currently are 32 free parking spaces available for the restaurant and that the area will be redesigned to accommodate another eight spots. The area further southwest of the restaurant includes 45 spaces of paid parking, with the profit being split between MJV and Marker 116. A parking area close to 41st Avenue is for employees of the restaurant and the Marina Market. Bushnell said the agreement with MJV “was the best compromise solution we could find.”
“We’re trying to make the best situation we can for everybody,” Bushnell added.