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Sullivan’s Island Mayor’s Message: July 2018

Dear Island Neighbors,

 I hope you are enjoying your summertime here at our special place, and not letting the traffic and crowds get under your skin too much. The way I look at it, all that is the minimal price we pay for being lucky enough to live in a place that everyone wants to visit!

And yes, I frequently have to repeat that and other mantras to myself on my drive home on Middle Street, as I wait for someone (not always “from off”) to learn whether they can actually parallel park, especially in a space 2 feet shorter than their vehicle. Or even in a space with 10 extra feet.

Breathe, Pat, Relax… Remember What You Do On King Street Downtown, Pat…

But let’s move on to a few other items.


Chief Chris Griffin wants you to know that we have another new officer, Ryan Moulton, who comes to us from North Augusta, SC, where he served for 8 years in their Public Safety department.

Also, as hopefully you have noticed, the police department has for the summer increased our numbers of beach and parking enforcement officers to enhance public safety during this busy season. In addition, we also use Charleston County Sheriff’s Deputies to assist with traffic control and flow, to free up our Town officers to handle calls for service for residents and visitors.


 While we are more or less in the middle of summer, we’ve only just begun our Town’s Fiscal Year, which starts each July 1. As required by law, we last month approved, by three readings of an ordinance, a balanced budget for the 12 months beginning July 1. To learn where your Town’s revenue comes from, and where it goes, you can review it at


As a reminder, we are looking for qualified applicants for potential appointments to 4 of our boards and commissions. There are opportunities on the 1) Board of Zoning Appeals, 2) Design Review Board, 3) Tree Commission and 4) Municipal Election Commission.

Each of these bodies, composed of resident volunteers, performs important services in the governance of the Town. Most significantly, these boards evaluate and render decisions on individual property owners’ land development requests, and, serve as advisors to Town Council on historic preservation, tree preservation and other planning and zoning related matters.

You can get more information and applications at


It’s sometimes hard to appreciate our part in the big picture of the planet’s health, but we really should pay more attention to our impact right here. While the ocean is the largest life-sustaining resource on our planet, we manage to mess with an awful lot of that life.

You have no doubt seen recent reports on the effects of plastic and other debris that we inflict on the planet’s oceans. Marine debris affects at least 267 species worldwide, including 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all sea bird species and 43% of marine mammal species.

Plastic marine debris takes hundreds of years to break down and may never fully biodegrade.

Birds, fish and mammals often mistake plastic and other debris for food, which can lead to fatal consequences.

That’s why you have seen growing numbers of municipalities, including some of our neighbors, taking action to curtail the amount of this plastic trash that finds its way into the estuarine and ocean environments.

As one of 7 councilmembers I’ve struggled with the question of what the Town should do about the problem beyond our educational efforts. If a Sullivan’s Island plastic ban could solve the problem, I’d be all over it. But all the data suggest that the plastic junk that washes up on all sides of the Island mostly originates elsewhere. However, now that several of our neighboring communities have enacted limits on the dispensing of plastic and Styrofoam, should we follow their lead for the few stores and restaurants on the Island that still use them? What about plastic straws, which of course can easily be replaced by the paper versions that many of us geezers grew up on?

I really would appreciate your input. Please email me at oneilp@, with your ideas.


Apropos the depressing beach and ocean trash topic, we should all give a shout-out to the team from the Mt. Pleasant Trader Joe’s for their great and generous efforts in their beach sweep on Sunday, July 8, picking up after our Independence Day holiday. Giving up a large part of their day off, they collected 55 pounds of trash left behind by folks on the beach. I hope you will all salute these Trader Joe’s employees when you get a chance.

See you around the Island!

Pat O’Neil, Mayor



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