As a lifelong Isle of Palms resident, I hear that there is someone running for Mount Pleasant Town Council who has done everything they could to discredit a neighboring island community.
This person has used social media to divide three separate communities that have always been one, called the East Cooper. A community where many of us grew up together, went to high school and college together. What I can’t figure out is just exactly which beaches are being saved?
And from what? We have been accused of being “elitist” when anyone who knows me, knows that I am as far from being an elitist as could ever be. Yes, I have dined with the Governor, but I have also dined with our public works department. I have more fun dining with our public works department. The last time I saw our beach, it was the same one that has been a big part of my whole life. Yes, there has been unbridled growth across the tri-county and especially in Mount Pleasant, where the population has doubled every 10 years for decades. But the beaches are the same physical size, yet are overwhelmed due to the growth taking place all around the tri county.
Every new development or apartment complex touts how close it is to the beaches. Look at our National Parks; they now limit the number coming in to try and maintain the overall quality of one’s visit. In addition to the increase in crowds, the amount of trash on the beach is unbelievable, yet the Isle of Palms cleans up after everyone. Yes, I thank those who give an hour on Mondays to pick up Front Beach as a way to say they clean the beaches. But there are 4 miles that go untouched. Our beach dumpster truck ploks it up every day. A great comparison for numbers is the Williams-Brice Stadium for USC. It is designed to safely hold 80,250 spectators; however, if you allow 125,000 spectators in there it becomes a public safety accident waiting to happen. The same applies to the beaches and our newly restriped IOP Connector. In 2015, after hiring professional traffic engineers, we came up with “Plan Ć” in April 2015, which was applauded by the SCDOT as being forward thinking for those visiting the beach. This was considered a design that maximized the safe parking amounts for day visitors and for those who live on the interior of the island in residential neighborhoods. But having some person running for council, with their platform being that they saved the beaches begs the question: what was there to save? Were the islands going away? Was the city knocking down the bridges? If anything, I blame this candidate for inflaming the SCDOT Committee chairman and other state-elected politicians into pandering for votes in the most concentrated areas. Pretty sad: votes over safety. I am amazed at these same elected officials deciding in record time and speed in restriping the bridge, thereby taking away the center emergency lane. This situation can be compared to a hurricane. It’s not if someone is going to get hurt or worse, but when. Hugo is the clincher. Does anyone think back to 1987 when the Isle of Palms had the foresight to buy 5.5 acres to be used for non-resident parking and paid over $1.6 million in 1987 dollars? Back at a time that parking was never an issue. Of course, those who claim that anyone who lives on the island is elitist and is restricting access to the beach. Yet, the island is thinking about the future and preparing parking for those who didn’t live on the island. I wish Mount Pleasant had been forward thinking like that about the negative results of overbuilding.
Well, we can’t go back in time, but we can think forward. This all started when the Governor closed access to all the beaches and waterways due to the unprecedented, world-wide pandemic.
It’s funny how that started this but was then left out. And after those two months, he told the beach communities to handle social distancing however they felt best. No instructions or guidelines were given, and each beach community tried something different. I can’t say anyone of the beaches did it right or wrong, but we did what each community thought was right for their residents. But, to create social media groups to promote division in communities, to post the names and addresses of council members and encouraging writing bad reviews on business sites, only furthers the division as seen across our country. Instead of division, one should be working on unity. Just for the record, all the beach communities far exceed the Beachfront Management Act’s required parking requirements. The Isle of Palms exceeds its required parking spaces by 800% with 4.5 miles of public beaches and 56 beach accesses. Instead of electing someone who promotes division and spews hatred, elect those who actually give back to the community in positive ways. Let’s work together by electing positive mature candidates. Those who spew diatribe on social media, whether they serve on council now or are seeking to be elected, probably need to mature a little or maybe a lot before being elected in order to lead one of the largest and fastest growing cities in South Carolina. Let’s try and be the East Cooper I’ve known for over six decades. While much of East Cooper has changed over the years, it can still, at least, elect candidates that give back positively. I’ve given back to my community outside of politics through coaching youth sports, and by supporting youth sporting teams every sporting season for 41 years, by donating my time and money building homes for the less privileged in partnership with East Cooper Habitat for Humanity. I won’t even begin describing the 15 years I gave to my Island; it could be a book. So, instead of dividing a community, ask what has this candidate done positively for the community outside the negativity on social media?
The future is ours; let’s not screw it up any further. Let’s move forward together in a positive fashion. United we conquer, but divided we fail.
Isle of Palms