We all know that times are tough now.
We have challenges that have been addressed in previous messages from the mayor, but this time I’m going to do something a little different.
I would like to shine a spotlight on the important things we have accomplished. I want to remind our community that we successfully overcame every challenge that has cropped up over the past year, always prioritizing the needs of our residents. Last year we hired a new city administrator, Desirée Fragoso, and she has been instrumental in achieving every one of our goals. We also hired a new police chief, Kevin Cornett, who has settled in nicely and has been an asset to the city ever since. We also have a new assistant city administrator, Ron Hanna, who has been a wonderful addition to the City Hall team.
We began the rehabilitation of the Public Safety Building, and I am proud to say that project is both ahead of schedule and on budget. While the building is not considered to be structurally deficient, it does show signs of deterioration. It has good bones, and we are in the process of building on that. When completed, the rebuild will provide us with a safer, more efficient and more integrated headquarters for our public safety personnel. We have partnered with Trident Construction and Coast Architects as our design build team to complete the necessary repairs to the building. In order to ensure the highest quality possible, we have also contracted with Insight Group as our independent owner’s representative. Insight Group’s job will be to make sure the project is as efficient as possible and to represent the city’s interests as a subject matter expert. We are confident in this team and happy with the results they are providing so far.
We have acquired a new 75-foot ladder truck which also pumps water for our Fire Department. This multi-use truck is the first of a series sold nationwide which is better equipped to handle higher waters in the event of a storm.
We worked directly with the manufacturer and design team to provide input ahead of this series of trucks being built.
We are very proud of our Fire Department’s initiative in this design. The department ensured that a wide variety of personnel from across all ranks were involved in taking delivery of the truck, and the entire department has been trained on its use.
The past year has also been a big one for us with regards to technology. We have been forced to move to all electronic meetings due to COVID-19.
This transition went extremely smoothly. We broke records with our live-stream broadcasts, with some City Council meetings being viewed by more than 600 people at the same time. We also underwent a website refresh with our hosting provider.
The new site is much simpler to navigate and provides a greater degree of openness to our citizens. Recorded and live meetings are easily available from the home page through the “View Public Meetings” button.
We have added a “Report a Concern” form to the site and made the “Public Comment for Meetings” form more easily accessible under the “How do I…” button.
These changes demonstrate our commitment to open and accessible government. We have held more meetings in the months of March and April than we normally hold in a year. Each one was to address a pressing issue as part of our response to the pandemic. Very few city governments are as agile as we have been in adapting to the changing conditions that this unprecedented situation has created. We have been and will continue to listen to residents’ concerns. To support this claim, I would like to point out that we held an emergency meeting on a Saturday night, May 16, after receiving an overwhelming number of concerns from our residents about parking problems over the weekend.
Speaking of which, our Police Department has made great strides in resolving these and other parking issues, including increased enforcement of double parking regulations. To aid in this effort, City Council increased all parking-related fines from $50 to $100. As a result, we had a calm and manageable Fourth of July. Also, Isle of Palms has been named the safest city in South Carolina by Safewise for the third consecutive year. This accomplishment highlights the commitment and dedication of our Police Department to this community.
Our Public Works Department continues to be an example to follow for surrounding municipalities, offering twicea-week collection even when others are stepping back. We have the utmost gratitude for our essential frontline workers who are often overlooked. The Public Works Department has also made great strides when it comes to signs, replacing several unsightly older signs with newer ones, particularly around beach accesses. We have also reduced the overall number of signposts on the island, which is part of an ongoing project to simplify signage.
The Recreation Department is offering limited programming and services while maintaining safety. They have even held some online classes using Zoom.
The playground and picnic areas are open, and we ask that people engage in social distancing while enjoying them. I am happy to say these areas have been used responsibly by our citizens since they opened.
I firmly believe that we have a lot to be proud of, even in these trying times. No one would have thought at this time last year that we would be facing a global pandemic that has disrupted our everyday lives. We have broken new ground as a city in our response and made a path forward while keeping our residents safe. There are many challenges yet to be addressed, and I am confident that we will continue to take care of them properly, always putting residents first. If we have learned anything from this pandemic, it is that we have the right people working for the city to handle whatever life throws at us.
Jimmy Carroll, Mayor Isle of Palms