The past six months have been truly challenging as we continue to grapple with an ongoing pandemic that has dramatically changed the world. Things may not be back to normal for many months.
Even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, Council and staff are busier than ever, with many projects underway!
The docks, including the fuel dock, hut and marine utility infrastructure located along Morgan Creek, are slated to be replaced this fall. The city is going through the request-for-proposals process to select a qualified contractor to perform this work, which is estimated to take approximately five months. The deadlines for submission of proposals is Sept. 11, 2020, and we expect Council to award a contract by the end of this month and issue a notice to proceed by Sept. 30, 2020.
As you know, after a competitive request-for-proposals process, City Council voted to enter exclusive negotiations with the IOP Families Investment Group for a new lease for the Marina restaurant formerly occupied by Morgan Creek Grill. The IOP Families Investment Group is represented by island residents Jon and Bridget Bushnell and Dave and Chrissy Lorenz. After several extensions to the due diligence period, we are very close to the finish line. City Council engaged a real estate attorney from the Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd law firm to develop a lease agreement for the use and complete renovation of the aged and dilapidated restaurant building. The prospective tenants plan to renovate the building and grounds and hope to open the outdoor area by late spring and then the interior of the building in summer 2021.
In April of last year, City Council voted not to automatically renew the existing watersports lease, currently held by Tidal Wave Watersports, after it expires on Sept. 30, 2020. Council is in the process of determining the best use for that area – whether to continue to lease it for a commercial watersports operation or turn it into a public dock with green space and free resident parking spaces. If Council decides that it wants that dock and parking spaces to be leased for a private commercial operation, then the city would pursue the same competitive request-for-proposals process that has historically preceded awarding a new lease at the Marina. This is a unique opportunity for the city to do something special at the Marina which will stand as this Council’s legacy for years to come.
I understand that there are differing opinions and visions for the future use of this dock, and that is OK. While it is normal and healthy to think differently, we need to be respectful and kind to each other and encourage dialogue instead of hostility when we encounter opinions and perspectives that are different from our own.
Let’s all do our part to encourage unity, not divisiveness. I call on all members of our community to embrace the core values of kindness, community, civility, respect and service.
It’s no secret that the social media frenzy at times gets out of control. Social media can be a powerful and engaging platform for bringing communities together, but it can also lead to depression, anxiety and outrage. Don’t forget that behind the screen, we are all humans trying our best. Sometimes it’s good to log off social media, take a walk on the beach and rejuvenate our minds and bodies.
PUBLIC SAFETY BUILDING
This long-awaited project is nearing completion. The design-build team made up of Trident Construction and Coast Architects has done a phenomenal job rehabilitating the building that houses our Police and Fire departments. The building renovation is expected to be completed this November. We cannot wait to welcome our police and fire heroes back into an improved building.
We all know that during the beach season the influx of daily beachgoers significantly stresses the city’s resources and personnel. Our Police Department sees an increase of 51% in calls for service between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Our Fire Department sees an increase in calls for service of 75% during that same time period. The cost of beach garbage collection services also increases significantly during the summer. The City of Isle of Palms is one of the few beaches in the state that provides garbage and recycling collection services on both the street side and beach side along all 57 beach access paths. The city also collects miscellaneous debris, mainly chairs and tents, left on the beach during the summer. We do this to provide a safe and a clean beach environment that benefits us all so that we may enjoy this piece of paradise everyone loves.
The City of Isle of Palms cannot grow like our neighboring communities, and, therefore, we have limited opportunities to raise revenues to offset the increasing costs required to maintain the city and meet the growing demand for services.
For this reason, last month, City Council approved a plan to implement paid parking on the existing public beach parking areas.
These areas include all parking located on Palm Boulevard, the avenues between Third and Ninth, and Breach Inlet. The new paid parking plan would start next year. The current plan includes charging an hourly fee of $2.50 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. between March 1 and Oct. 31. Vehicles with a valid residential parking decal may park along these areas at no extra cost.
The City Isle of Palms has eight times as many public access points and approximately 7.5 times the minimum required number of public parking spaces to provide full and complete public access.
The city is also working with CARTA on the development of a beach shuttle with a park and ride location in Mount Pleasant. The shuttle will run between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and have multiple stops on the Isle of Palms. Stay tuned for more details.
We have already experienced an extremely active hurricane season this year. It is a humbling reminder to get prepared ahead of time for the likely scenario of a named storm impacting our shores once again before the season is over. Make an emergency plan for your family, prepare an emergency supply kit, check your insurance policies and plan your evacuation route now – don’t wait until the storm comes.
If you have a hurricane re-entry pass, you may have noticed that it expired in January 2020. These passes allowed access to the island if the city found it necessary to limit access to all or portions of the island after a storm, based on the extent of damage. The city will not re-issue these passes and will instead use the city-issued residential parking decals and Wild Dunes owners stickers as proof of residency. Residents may apply for the residential parking decal online at www.iop.net. The Police Department will issue special hurricane season passes to Dewees Island and Goat Island residents and the owners and managers of island businesses. Please contact the department at 843-886-6522 for more information.
The wonderful and hardworking crew of the Recreation Department is busy planning for a memorable and different Halloween celebration on Saturday, Oct. 31, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The city will host a Halloween golf cart parade and drive-thru haunted house! The parade will offer an opportunity for residents to decorate golf carts and compete for prizes. Get your golf carts ready for a new and exciting Halloween experience!
To participate, golf carts must be registered with the Rec Department. Registration will begin on Oct. 5. As a reminder, according to state law, golf cart owners must have a permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles and proof of insurance to drive on the road.
Just Beachy Golf Cart Rentals and IOP Cart Rentals have agreed to offer a discount for cart rentals if a family needs one – more info on www.iop.net.