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Message From The Mayor: January 2021

Pat O’Neil

Dear Island Neighbors,

 I hope you all had warm and joyful holidays and are on your way to a healthy and happy new year.

I started to say “a better year” but figured that’s a depressingly low bar.

Let’s all hope that 2021 will develop into a fine year for everyone!

But, of course, we still have quite a bit of 2020 stuck to our shoes, most prominently, of course, you know what. …

No ersters this year, thanks to COVID

One of our great island traditions is the February Oyster Roast hosted by our Fire and Rescue Squad, the volunteers who so ably assist our full-time Fire Department professionals in keeping us and our visitors safe from fire, water emergencies and a host of other dangers.

As mentioned last month, Fire Chief Anthony Stith regretfully but understandably announced that this year the event will have to be canceled because … pandemic. Needless to say, a group whose purpose is to protect our health and life would not want to stage a crowded event that might compromise those things during these COVID times.

Clusters are fine for local oysters but not at all good for us humans these days.

In addition to the great community gathering the Oyster Roast provides, this event has always been a great fundraiser for the Fire and Rescue Squad. Most of the equipment you see them use is bought with funds they raise from events like this.

However, you can still support the efforts of this wonderful group of folks who put themselves at risk and give their time to keep us safe. Please consider making a donation to: Sullivan’s Island Fire and Rescue; P.O. Box 104; Sullivan’s Island S.C. 29482.

Or drop it off in the payment box in front of Town Hall.

Causeway project and bike/pedestrian lane

You have no doubt observed the beginning construction activity on the Mount Pleasant portion of the causeway. This is a project of the Mount Pleasant Waterworks and the Charleston Water System first announced last September.

The purpose is to construct a water main that will allow the MPW system to tie into the CWS water main that runs down Middle Street.

You can find a lot of information on this project at

We get our water from CWS via a main that runs below the harbor from Fort Johnson to the island and then down Middle Street. It goes on to the Isle of Palms, where it supplies part of that system’s water requirements.

The causeway project will allow that CWS main on Middle Street to also supplement the water supply of the MPW system.

(Don’t worry: we on the island won’t be paying for that water!)

The new main will run from the Middle Street main to near Toler’s Cove/Marsh Harbor, where it will connect with existing MPW lines. But don’t look for backhoes and dredges to get it from here to there. An engineering technique called horizontal directional drilling will be used to create a small underground tunnel from a small portion of the easternmost end of Stith Park, where it will go down under the marsh and Intracoastal Waterway and Mount Pleasant marsh to emerge near Toler’s. Then the new main (pipe) will be pulled back to the Island through that resulting tunnel and connected to the Middle Street main.

(The website linked above can take you to an informative video explaining the concept.)

The new main is around 5,000 feet long and must be pulled through, back to the island, all in one piece and all at one time. As you might guess, a pipe nearly a mile long is a little long to transport in one piece on a truck.

The pipe will have to be created on site by welding many sections together to stretch from Toler’s Cove to near Center Street in Mount Pleasant. That work will have to take place in the existing bike/pedestrian path on that side of the Ben Sawyer. Unfortunately, that means the path must be closed to its usual traffic for the duration of the project.

Clay Duffie, general manager of MPW, tells me they looked at alternative staging areas to avoid closing the path, but there were no options that were financially and environmentally workable. At the website linked above, there is good discussion of this in the “Project Q and A” attachment.

The anticipated date of completion is this summer. During the project, it may be necessary, more than usual, to share the road with bikers, and we pedestrians will have to forego runs or walks from the island to Mount Pleasant. However, the path on the island portion of the causeway will be unaffected.

Patience will be called for over these few months. But we’ve been here before. When the current path was constructed in 2014 to replace the earlier one, we had to live without a usable path from mid-February to late May.

See you around the island!

Pat O’Neil



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