By Emma Woodham, Staff Writer for Island Eye News
The Isle of Palms City Council met for their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, October 24. Mayor Dick Cronin called the meeting to order, noting that the city had chosen to have a “pinkout” in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. All members of the council wore some article of pink clothing for the meeting. Mayor Cronin asked for citizens’ comments, and Mount Pleasant resident Shane Ziegler, owner of Barrier Island Eco Tours, spoke. He thanked the council for its hard work on the IOP Marina Enhancement Project. Ziegler has owned his eco-tour business for twenty years, and he is very excited to see what the marina improvements will do for the residents, tourists, and business owners.
He believes it will make Isle of Palms a more desirable place to live and visit. “I feel like it’s very resident friendly and will benefit the businesses because it’s going to be such a beautiful place,” Ziegler said.
Ziegler feels that the marina is currently deteriorating and that the parking lot flow is a major issue. He noted that many of the docks are a few decades old and frequently have loose boards or nails that stick up, both of which are hazardous.
He also addressed the fact that many residents are displeased with how many tourists will likely use the new, improved marina. Ziegler pointed out that tourists are really the lifeblood of this island, especially when it comes to revenue. Lastly, Ziegler commented on the controversy that has surrounded the proposed marina improvements. In his thirty years living in this area, he says that he has never seen such nastiness between residents. He also feels that many of the residents of the island don’t want to share the island with others. “It’s sad that so many people think because they are privileged enough to own a piece of property on the island, they are the only ones who should enjoy it,” Ziegler said in closing.
Troy Pusateri thanked council and the city for allowing the Seal Kids event to be held on the Isle of Palms. He really appreciated the support he received from council, the mayor, and Fire Chief Ann Graham. Ultimately, they raised $65,000 for Seal Kids. Mayor Cronin asked if this would be an annual event, and Pusateri said he hopes it will. Last to speak during public comments was Chris Crolley, owner of Coastal Expeditions. He is in favor of the referendum and believes that the IOP Marina has worked well for a time but needs to be a little bigger. He also praised Brian Berrigan for all the work he has done, especially with the marina store. Coastal Expeditions also appreciates the part of the marina improvement that moves their location to a different area of the marina, and Crolley said he hopes this referendum passes. Mayor Cronin reviewed the Ways and Means committee meeting and noted that expenditures are in line with the budget so far this year. The beach re-nourishment project is on schedule and will begin around the first of the year. Mayor Cronin made a motion to award the approval of a $13,000 contract to Civil Site Environmental for evaluating drainage issues across the island. The motion to approve passed unanimously. To wrap up the Ways and Means report, Mayor Cronin announced that City Administrator Linda Tucker had requested that the funds from the SC Parks, Recreation, and Tourism grant for the beach re-nourishment project be given to the city before the project begins rather than afterwards, and that the request was fulfilled. The city received a check for $2.9 million that will be used towards the beach renourishment. Tucker says that a similar request has also been put in for the FEMA funds.
Councilmember Marty Bettelli briefly reviewed the Public Safety meeting, stating that all the vehicles and backhoe that were thought to be abandoned on 27th Street near the rec center have been moved. Lines for the parking spaces have also been repainted, and each space has been numbered. Councilmember Ferencz asked how the parking will be monitored and asked about posting a sign stating that no overnight parking is allowed at the rec center. Tucker told her that this would require a change in city ordinances, and Bettelli volunteered to put that on the agenda for the next Public Safety meeting. During her review of the Public Works committee meeting, Councilmember Ferencz praised all the city staff for their hard work before, during, and after Hurricane Irma. She moved on to discuss the fact that the Public Works department personnel needs to be evaluated. She believes a third party should be brought in to evaluate exactly what is needed. “I think we all agree that we cannot continue with the staff we have and the increase in responsibility we’ve put on them,” Ferencz said.
Councilmember Carol Rice provided a Recreation Committee update, informing everyone that adult athletics and youth soccer are in full swing. She also mentioned that the committee had been approached about renaming the soccer fields after an individual who recently passed away; however, it was decided that the fields should not be renamed, but Rice wants to remind anyone wishing to memorialize a loved one that commemorative bricks are still available in the front beach area. Councilmember Barbara Bergwerf briefly mentioned that the Real Property committee is going to seek more bids for the front beach public restroom and boardwalk renovations in hopes that they can get some better bid prices. She added that the city may just elect to fix the boardwalk first and save the restrooms for a later date. After the council voted to approve the first readings of many city ordinances, the meeting was adjourned. The next meeting of the Isle of Palms City Council will be on Tuesday, Nov. 28.