I have recently had the opportunity to speak before the House’s Education and Public Works Committee, Transportation Subcommittee concerning Senate bill S-40. Unfortunately, I am not sure that my voice was really heard.
It was apparent to me that some elected officials were more concerned about votes from an organized social media group that played the game of calls, emails and letters to elected officials well. This situation has shown me how social media can create more division than collaboration and be a conduit for misinformation to be spread widely.
We are a small community with a small government that successfully handles big challenges every day.
Some elected officials don’t see us as a residential community but more as a beach commodity for anyone in South Carolina to use at our sole expense. The state does not need Bill S40. All this bill does is ensure another layer of red tape between local governments and the implementation of solutions for their citizens. At a time when the Charleston tri-county region has more unbridled growth than in living memory, it is more important than ever that municipal governments have the ability to do what is best for their communities without interference from state officials who are seeking re-election and who put votes above all else. This might be a good time to remind people that not everyone who posts votes, and not everyone who votes posts.
I applaud the hard work and great effort put in by both City staff and the SCDOT in reaching a satisfactory resolution to our recent parking turmoil. The City has preserved the 2015 managed beach parking plan while implementing a slight modification to the landside of Palm Boulevard between 22nd and 40th Avenue, where we will have angled parking instead of parallel.
After trying parallel parking on both sides of Palm Boulevard for several seasons, we realized that it didn’t work and it was creating unsafe conditions for pedestrians and motorists alike. The proposed angled parking would allow vehicles traveling on the east-bound lane to pull into the parking space without needing to make a 3-point turn or drive through the residential neighborhoods to turn around and park.
Also, by moving parked vehicles away from the active and busy travel lane to the interior of the shoulder closer to the sidewalk, motorists will have ample room along the shoulder to back out of the parking space without backing out directly on the narrow lanes on Palm Boulevard. This would also restore a shoulder area for vehicles traveling westbound to pull into, while yielding to the right to allow passage of emergency vehicles traveling on Palm Boulevard. You can find the parking diagram and plan sheets on the City’s website at iop.net. The City will monitor this new set up throughout the season and work with SCDOT to make modifications or changes if necessary. I’d also like to point out that the parking stops delineating each parking space on Palm Boulevard are a temporary solution.
The City and SCDOT continue to work on a more permanent and aesthetically pleasing solution for the future.
We are about to head into the summer season in earnest and we had our first taste of it recently during spring break.
We will continue to work with our partners at CARTA, BCDCOG, and SCDOT and our neighboring communities to develop solutions that balance the quality of life of our community while ensuring safe access to the beach for everyone.
The City’s primary goal regarding any changes made to parking, and the IOP Connector, will always be safety.
The IOP Connector issue is not over- City Council will consider hiring a traffic engineering firm to study the new modifications, as will SCDOT. It should be interesting to compare the results from both studies.
We continue our work on the Marina rehabilitation project and all is progressing smoothly. The bulkhead rehabilitation is expected to be completed by the end of April.
The first two shipments of the floating docks have arrived and they are being assembled in Salmon’s yard in Charleston. The demolition of the existing docks should commence very soon. We are also excited about the progress being made with the new Marina Restaurant. The City’s Board of Zoning Appeals recently heard and approved an application from the new marina restaurant for changes to an outdoor seating area.
I am looking forward to eating out there and enjoying the view when they open!
Thank you to our residents for sticking with us as we worked through these challenges. The last two years have been hard, but I’m glad we have a great staff and City family to help resolve these challenges and protect the residential character of our island. I thank our City Council for being willing to stand up for what is right. I want to remind everyone, that we have Municipal elections coming up in November, so I encourage residents to think about running for Council or for Mayor. Most say it is a thankless job, however, I am proud that I was here to tackle the challenges we inherited and the unprecedented ones brought on by a pandemic and the other issues that unfolded in its wake. Luckily, I see nothing but a positive future for our island from here on out.