Feb 14 2019

Sullivan’s Island Mayor’s Message: February 2019

Dear Island Neighbors,

 A variety of items for you this month…


Those of you who ran in the Charlie Post Road Race last month, or who watched the runners, may have seen one participant who was definitely not dressed for speed. Our Fire Department’s Battalion Chief Amanda Hawver ran the 5K in full firefighter protective gear: 75 pounds worth! In spite of this extra load, she finished in a very respectable 43:41, proudly sporting an American flag as well. Congratulations, Mandy, and thanks for representing the Town so well!


Recently Council’s Land Use and Natural Resources Committee met to learn about the impact of cigarette butts, or more precisely, cigarette filters on the environment.

Committee Chair Rita Langley shared a number of facts with us, for example:

  1. Cigarette filters are among the most frequently collected litter items in the SC area.
  2. Even one cigarette filter in two gallons of water can be lethal to small crustaceans (i.e. shrimp, krill, crab).
  3. Cigarette filters are found in dead fish, birds, sea turtles and other marine animals.
  4. 90% of cigarette filters are non-biodegradable and can take from 18 months to 10 years to decompose.

Obviously the above are ample reasons for wanting to keep cigarette filters out of the ocean and creeks, and off the beach, but how should we achieve that? The committee’s general recommendation for now was to really step up our public outreach and education efforts to encourage folks to dispose of their cigarette butts responsibly.

That’s easier said than done, of course. If you have some ideas about how to accomplish this, please email them to me at the address at the end of this column.


 Our annual, family-oriented celebration of St. Patrick’s Day will be held a day early this year, on Saturday, March 16, from 10 a.m.-noon in Stith Park. The Town is happy to again sponsor this enjoyable and entertaining event for leprechauns of all ages.

Says Council Recreation Committee Chair Sarah Church, “Join us for some family-friendly St. Patrick’s Day fun! We have Hungry Monk music performing Irish music, and No Hands Magic will join us for an interactive comedy/magic show. Festivities begin at 10 a.m. at the gazebo. See you there!”

For more info visit bit.ly/2tkTDN3.


Last Fall, the Charleston County Joint Legislative Delegation, chaired by Representative Peter McCoy and co-chaired by our own Senator Chip Campsen, announced the formation of the “Countywide Intergovernmental Flood Prevention Taskforce Committee”, chaired by Senator Sandy Senn. The group’s mission statement is “to promote cooperative effort amongst all governmental entities which have existing stormwater departments, right of ways, and heavy equipment so that existing ditches, drains, flood valves, retention ponds, and the like can be kept in the best possible repair in order to minimize damage to residential homes and property.”

I am always suspicious of mission statements as being finesounding aspirations that never quite convert to reality. However, this group seems to be bent on achieving its mission. The main objective is to work together in solving discrete problems in discrete areas. The group has no delusions about stopping sea level rise; it is concerned with what can and should be done with existing infrastructure and resources.

The group had an inaugural quarterly meeting in October and a second meeting last month, both of which were attended by Town Administrator Andy Benke and me. That second meeting was largely given over to review of the stormwater needs that had been reported to the group and the actions that had been taken. I was amazed at the number of specific local reports that had been effectively addressed, and others that had clearly identified obstacles to solutions. State, county, municipal and neighborhood entities are getting together to survey problem areas and try to figure the most effective ways to address them. You would be amazed at how specific some of the problems and solutions have been found to be, e.g., get the soccer ball out of the culvert.

Here on the Island, the SC Department of Transportation continued maintenance work on the stormwater collection infrastructure during the last week of January 2019. The work included cleaning ditches, clearing driveway culverts, grading for slope improvement and removal of non-permitted pipes. Much remains to be done, of course, but we are seeing movement in the right direction.

To be literal, and possibly also littoral, the “right direction” in Island stormwater management is out back, into the marsh. We cannot discharge toward the ocean. We have a number of stormwater “outfalls” (outlets) on the back of the Island where the water collected elsewhere on the Island is supposed to flow to the marsh. However, a number of these outfalls have problems that interfere with this mission: the pipes to them are clogged or broken, or the outfalls themselves are blocked. Senator Campsen recently lashed on boots and with Andy Benke examined first hand a number of these locations. He is committed to finding solutions to some of the impediments to clearing the way for these outfalls. Thank you, Senator Campsen!

 In the meantime, residents with stormwater drainage issues are encouraged to initiate an SC Department of Transportation maintenance work order at their website bit.ly/SI-ROW.

Please note that the dropdown for “Maintenance Item – Description” has several stormwater-related options. You are also encouraged to provide more info regarding the problem and its precise location.

 Don’t be shy…the DOT wants to hear from you.

See you around the Island!

Pat O’Neil, Mayor



 | @oneilpm1

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