By Emma Woodham, Staff Writer for The Island Eye News
The Sullivan’s Island Town Council held its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, March 20. Mayor Pat O’Neil asked for citizen’s comments, but there were none.
The first item on the agenda was to declare March as American Red Cross Month on the island, which is typically an annual proclamation. No vote was necessary to make the declaration and no members of the council had any opposition. The next topic discussed was the appointment of Wells Fargo Securities as Bond Underwriter and First Tryon Securities as Financial Advisor, part of the financing plan for capital projects such as the upgrades to the water treatment facility. A motion was made to approve the appointment, and all members of the council were in favor.
In his Administrator’s Report, Andy Benke reviewed some correspondence he had received, mainly noting that the team from ABC who has been doing some filming on the island has another film shoot in the next few days. Benke didn’t feel that the film crew had really been much of a disruption on the island so far. He also added that the council will need to have a meeting with Wells Fargo and First Tryon Securities and that they need to establish a time.
Mayor O’Neil noted that the Town Comptroller, Jason Blanton, had given the council the budget timeline and was willing to answer any questions about it. Councilmember Bachman Smith asked about the funds allocated as salary for a new Building Department Trainee, and Administrator Benke pointed out that Randy Robinson, the Chief Building Official, will likely be retiring in the next two to three years. It will take about that same length of time to fully train and license a replacement, which is the reason for the trainee position.
The allocated pay has been reviewed and compared with other local municipalities.
In the Public Facilities report, Councilmember Mark Howard made a motion to ask staff to look at the scope of work that needs to be done on the fire station building. Councilmember Rita Langley didn’t have anything to report from the Land and Natural Resources Committee, but Zoning Administrator Joe Henderson briefly updated the council on the Planning Commission’s comprehensive plan. He noted that 23 palm trees were planted along Ben Sawyer Blvd. thanks to the Tree Fund.
For the Water & Sewer Committee, Councilmember Smith reported that financing discussions about the water treatment plant project are still ongoing. He also added that the committee met with some residents of the Poe Ave. and Citadel St. area about the sewer line replacement project that will impact those streets. Despite some hope that there might be a couple of different plan options, the town will proceed with the current plan. Additionally, because tree roots are a big issue for the sewer lines, a lot of the area will need to be cleared out. The work should begin in late April.
Councilmember Chauncey Clark thanked the Sullivan’s Island Police force for the work they did on St. Patrick’s Day during the island’s celebration. He also made a motion that the town staff and legal counsel work out the necessary details to permit boat trailer parking behind the Town Hall where the Army vehicles used to be parked. He hopes that the details would include a small fee for the use of each space.
Councilmember Tim Reese asked if this plan would allow boats on trailers or simply trailers. Councilmember Clark would like to try it out temporarily with just trailers, but suggested that the committee reexamine demand for the spaces a month or two after rolling out the plan. Councilmember Mark Howard stated that he feels this is more of an amenity that gated communities offer, not town municipalities. All members of the council were in favor of the motion except for Councilmember Howard.
In her Recreation Committee report, Councilmember Sarah Church was pleased that this year’s St Patrick’s Day family celebration in Stith Park was one of the most successful years so far. She thanked the Fire Department and the police department for all their help. She also added that vendors have been selected for the 2018 Farmers Market and asked if the Fire Department might be willing to help clean up the market site.
She still hasn’t found a solution for the bamboo forest area, a topic that the committee has visited several times, and hopes the committee can meet again to discuss it soon. Lastly, Councilmember Church added that the pickleball lines have been painted and that residents are already utilizing them.
Following the conclusion of the committee reports, Mayor O’Neil suggested that the council adjourn into executive session, and the meeting concluded. The next meeting of the Sullivan’s Island Town Council will be Tuesday, April 17 at 6 p.m.