The Sullivan’s Island elections were something to watch. The residents decided years ago to preserve their accreted land with a conservation easement. This was applauded by local environmentalists. However, times change, houses change hands, and some residents want better views. From all the ads it would have appeared that the bulk of the residents wanted to remove the easement in favor of an ocean view. After the elections, it became obvious that those who had the foresight to set up the conservation easement decades ago were right. The bulk of Sullivan’s Island voters showed an appreciation for this foresight, and the maritime forest it preserved, with their votes. A similar story applies to the City of Isle of Palms. Previous city leaders had the foresight to see that parking was going to be an issue. As a result, in 1987, the City held a referendum to buy 5.5 acres from the Beach Company to be used for future parking. If the City had not bought that land, it would have been developed. The referendum passed overwhelmingly. Who would have ever thought that parking would become the issue that it is today? Apparently in 1987 the island’s leaders and residents did. Again, in 1999, the city held a referendum to decide whether to buy the Wild Dunes Marina’s 5.12 acres from the Finch family. If the referendum had failed, the city was going to lose access to the intracoastal waterway. The referendum passed overwhelmingly. Once again the City had the foresight to buy the property, which is today being completely rebuilt into a world class marina. In 2015, after many decades of dealing with unbridled growth across the lowcountry, the City hired a professional traffic engineering company. Originally the engineers the City hired were thinking along the lines of grand causeways with trees in the middle. That’s not who the City of Isle of Palms is. It is a small beach community who wanted to share the beach in a safe way. I suggested at our April 2015 council meeting’s vote on parking, the so-called “Plan C.” Plan C allowed parking along the road with the widest right of way. This road just so happens to run along the ocean. City Council held a unanimous vote in favor of Plan C! Then because of the unprecedented worldwide pandemic, our parking plan came under attack from people across the lowcountry united by social media. Our statewide elected officials who wanted votes from social media users, caved in. They went so far as to create a special bill, S-40. S-40 is a bill that really affects only four of South Carolina’s 282 cities. The chairman of the South Carolina transportation committee, Senator Larry Grooms, even directly calls it the “Isle of Palms Parking Bill”. Thanks to City Council’s willingness to fight for what the City decided in 2015, city staff and SCDOT worked out a compromise. A compromise which protected the interior residential neighborhoods. Yes, the City has tried different parking configurations since 2015. Including everything from perpendicular to parallel, and now, angled parking on the landside of Palm Boulevard. Isle of Palms was the only South Carolina coastal community to oppose S40. I am proud of Council for standing up to state leaders to protect our community. We have still more to do, but it is always better to accomplish small tasks successfully, rather than attempting and failing to do everything at once. Other forward-thinking achievements over the last 10 years include fighting offshore drilling to protect the coast, the environment and tourism.
The City of Isle of Palms was one of the first coastal cities to sign up with the South Carolina Environmental Law Project to sue the federal government to protect our seas and coasts. The City was also the first South Carolina coastal community to ban the use of single use plastic bags. Plus, the City has taken significant steps to mitigate sea level rise and improve drainage. City Council continues the City of Isle of Palms grand tradition of being forward looking. We accomplished all of this in the last 4 years. Additionally during that time we had two key employees that were hired. One being our City Administrator Desiree Fragoso, without whom much of this would not be possible. The other being our acting Public Safety Chief, Kevin Cornett, to whom I am eternally grateful for his service and dedication. There is so much more that remains to be done. The City must ensure we keep up salary wise with our surrounding communities. Isle of Palms also needs to manage the Charleston region’s growth.
On that subject, we have worked with the Tri County Council of Governments to create a BeachReach app to help those coming to the beach know how much parking has been occupied and to show them the SCDOT cameras on their way. The City is helping to fund the BeachReach shuttle bus to lessen traffic on the roads. Did I mention, besides inheriting these challenges, the City accomplished the above during a global pandemic. I only hope our future island leaders learn from previous administrations the importance of a forward thinking mindset. I hope they continue to leave our community a better place for future generations.
Please be advised, fall elections are coming up. The City of Isle of Palms needs people to run who are running for the right reasons. The City needs servant
leaders to serve residents, not individuals looking for titles or stepping stones to future offices.
Believe me, it is a thankless job. But if you love the island and want to preserve it, being on the City Council is well worth the time to serve. Additionally, June begins Hurricane season.
We escaped any real threats last year. I pray we and all communities do so again.
Please, don’t let your guard down just because we have fared well recently. Be prepared, pack your personal items that can never be replaced. This includes things like your pictures and family heirlooms.
Also remember to pack medications you will need, food and water. Everything else is just stuff that can be replaced.
As for our projects, please go to iop.net and look under our project updates. There is a timeline for the marina rehabilitation, the marina restaurant, Phase III drainage, and more. We just finished the punch list for our 12-yearold public safety building’s complete rehabilitation. It looks great. Feel free to stop by to take a look. While you’re there, be sure to thank those who risk their lives for everyone, every day they come to work.
Mayor Jimmy Carroll