April Mayor's Message
I have recently had the opportunity to speak before the House’s Education and Public Works Committee, Transportation Sub-committee concerning Senate bill S-40. Unfortunately, I am not sure that my voice was really heard. It was apparent to me that some elected officials were more concerned about votes from an organized social media group that played the game of calls, emails and letters to elected officials well. This situation has shown me how social media can create more division than collaboration and be a conduit for misinformation to be spread widely. We are a small community with a small government that successfully handles big challenges every day. Some elected officials didn’t see us as a residential community but more as a beach commodity for anyone in South Carolina to use at our sole expense. The state does not need Bill S40. All this bill does is ensure another layer of red tape between local governments and the implementation of solutions for their citizens. At a time when the Charleston tri-county region has more unbridled growth than in living memory, it is more important than ever that municipal governments have the ability to do what is best for their communities without interference from state officials who are seeking re-election and who put votes above all else. This might be a good time to remind people that not everyone who posts votes, and not everyone who votes posts.
I applaud the hard work and great effort put in by both City staff and the SCDOT in reaching a satisfactory resolution to our recent parking turmoil. The City has preserved the 2015 managed beach parking plan while implementing a slight modification to the landside of Palm Boulevard between 22nd and 40th Avenue, where we will have angled parking instead of parallel. After trying parallel parking on both sides of Palm Boulevard for several seasons, we realized that it didn’t work and it was creating unsafe conditions for pedestrians and motorists alike. The proposed angled parking would allow vehicles traveling on the east-bound lane to pull into the parking space without needing to make a 3-point turn or drive through the residential neighborhoods to turn around and park. Also, by moving parked vehicles away from the active and busy travel lane to the interior of the shoulder closer to the sidewalk, motorists will have ample room along the shoulder to back out of the parking space without backing out directly on the narrow lanes on Palm Boulevard. This would also restore a shoulder area for vehicles traveling westbound to pull into, while yielding to the right to allow passage of emergency vehicles traveling on Palm Boulevard. You can find the parking diagram and plan sheets on the City’s website at www.iop.net. The City will monitor this new set up throughout the season and work with SCDOT to make modifications or changes if necessary. I’d also like to point out that the parking stops delineating each parking space on Palm Boulevard are a temporary solution. The City and SCDOT continue to work on a more permanent and aesthetically pleasing solution for the future.
We are about to head into the summer season in earnest and we had our first taste of it recently during spring break. We will continue to work with our partners at CARTA, BCDCOG, and SCDOT and our neighboring communities to develop solutions that balance the quality of life of our community while ensuring safe access to the beach for everyone. The City’s primary goal regarding any changes made to parking, and the IOP Connector, will always be safety. The IOP Connector issue is not over- City Council will consider hiring a traffic engineering firm to study the new modifications, as will SCDOT. It should be interesting to compare the results from both studies.
We continue our work on the Marina rehabilitation project and all is progressing smoothly. The bulkhead rehabilitation is expected to be completed by the end of April. The first two shipments of the floating docks have arrived and they are being assembled in Salmon’s yard in Charleston. The demolition of the existing docks should commence very soon. We are also excited about the progress being made with the new Marina Restaurant. The City’s Board of Zoning Appeals recently heard and approved an application from the new marina restaurant for changes to an outdoor seating area. I am looking forward to eating out there and enjoying the view when they open!
Thank you to our residents for sticking with us as we worked through these challenges. The last two years have been hard, but I’m glad we have a great staff and City family to help resolve these challenges and protect the residential character of our island. I thank our City Council for being willing to stand up for what is right. I want to remind everyone, that we have Municipal elections coming up in November, so I encourage residents to think about running for Council or for Mayor. Most say it is a thankless job, however, I am proud that I was here to tackle the challenges we inherited and the unprecedented ones brought on by a pandemic and the other issues that unfolded in its wake. Luckily, I see nothing but a positive future for our island from here on out.
March Mayor's Message
Hello Isle of Palms Community! I hope you and your family are enjoying the warmer weather and are looking forward to all that this season has to offer.
In today’s message I want to talk about parking and how we move forward with the South Carolina Department of Transportation. The City will continue to pursue and embrace a healthy, respectful and productive dialogue with SCDOT about improving and optimizing public parking opportunities while protecting and maintaining the quality of life for our residential community. For many years, the City worked very hard to develop and implement a methodical, comprehensive plan to manage resident and visitor parking demands well into the future. On February 23, 2021, City Council unanimously voted to reaffirm the City’s parking plan which was successfully implemented five years ago. The City is also committed to improving public beach access by embracing alternative transportation solutions that enhance safe and sustainable access to the beach while protecting our community's quality of life. The City is working with CARTA to implement a beach shuttle service this summer from Mount Pleasant to Isle of Palms to enhance beach access while improving traffic conditions on the island and our neighboring communities. The City has also been working with the Berkeley Charleston Dorchester Council of Governments to establish a vanpool program for employees of Isle of Palms businesses. Please contact city hall if your company would like to participate in the vanpool program. We are excited for these initiatives to kick off this summer!
I want to be clear about this. We openly welcome people to come to the island, and we want to make sure they can do so safely. To do this, we must protect and ensure access to emergency services for residents just as much as for visitors. Charleston County EMS responds to an average of 450 emergency calls every year, of which more than 50% of them are from visitors requiring immediate care. When this happens , seconds count and we must be able to get emergency medical assistance to people in need and get them off the island to a hospital quickly. The City has expressed significant concerns about the hazards created by the Department of Transportation’s Connector restriping and lane reconfiguration plan. The modifications, which were developed with no input from our public safety team, will limit emergency vehicles ability to quickly and safely navigate the Connector when traffic becomes gridlocked, as it frequently happens during peak season. While SCDOT is moving forward with the restriping project on the Connector, I, along with my fellow Councilmembers, strongly oppose this project. We will vigilantly monitor its impact to emergency response times in critical situations.
I also want to provide an update on the progress we’ve been making at the Isle of Palms Marina. The new restaurant tenants have begun the renovations of the building and during a presentation to Council last month, indicated that the damage to the building is more extensive than previously thought. The renovation costs will now be approximately 20% more than their original estimates. All of these costs are paid for by the tenant and the City will benefit from the ownership of a greatly improved physical asset. Our Marina Rehabilitation project is also well underway. We have nearly completed the bulkhead recoating project. The only remaining areas to be coated are the portion in front of the restaurant along Morgan Creek, and the north side of the boat ramp. We also have heard that our new docks are progressing well with the first shipment slated to arrive by the end of March. We’re on a good path here and I’m looking forward for our community to enjoy the new docks soon.
Finally, I want to encourage people to continue following the CDC safety recommendations to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and stop the spread. Get the vaccine when it’s your turn. Please wear face masks and practice social distancing. Stay home when possible. Everyone needs to make their own decisions with regards to risk tolerance, but the science is clear. We are a year into this pandemic and thankfully, the Isle of Palms has managed to keep our caseload low. We are so close to being through the worst of it, so we cannot afford to let off the gas now. We may feel like we’re done with the pandemic, but until we have widespread vaccine adoption, it isn’t done with us!
January Mayor's Message - Part 2
January 29, 2021
Although we have made it to a new year, things do not seem to have changed much from 2020. COVID-19 is still in full force, though the vaccine rollout is beginning across the state. Many problems we, as a country, have had did not disappear when the last two digits in the calendar year rolled over from 20 to 21. Regardless, we will keep moving forward and working together to make the Isle of Palms the best place it can possibly be.
In this message, I would like to provide an update on where the City stands regarding the creation of a public dock and greenspace at the Isle of Palms Marina.
On April 23, 2019, City Council voted to notify Tidalwave Watersports that the City was not renewing their lease or exercising the City’s renewal option. The City sent Tidalwave a written notice of Council’s decision, as required by the lease. Despite the notice, Tidalwave has refused to leave the premises after the lease expired on September 30, 2020. Regrettably, the City was left with no other option but to start eviction proceedings.
On October 2, 2020, City Council, voted to commence eviction proceedings with the goal of taking possession of the City’s property in order to proceed with the City’s public dock and greenspace project. The City’s Application for Ejectment was filed in the Magistrate Court.
On November 23, 2020, the Magistrate Court’s Judge held a pre-trial hearing where he requested an additional brief from each party before deciding on whether the eviction case should remain under the Magistrate Court’s jurisdiction or to grant Tidalwave’s request that the case be moved to Charleston County Circuit Court. On January 5, 2021, the Judge agreed with the City’s position and ruled that the Magistrate Court was the appropriate venue for the eviction case. The City is waiting for the Judge to rule on several Pre-Trial Motions submitted to the Court, including the City’s Motion for Summary Judgment. Tidalwave is actively opposing the eviction proceeding and has brought numerous claims against the City and its council members which we believe are baseless and will ultimately be dismissed.
By order of the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, all jury trials are suspended until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since Tidalwave requested a jury trial, the case before the magistrate will not be conducted until the ban is lifted.
The City is not able to move forward with the proposed plans for a public dock and greenspace until the case is adjudicated by the Court. The City is of the opinion the defenses and claims advanced by Tidalwave are without merit and will be determined in the City’s favor. The City is confident that this matter will be resolved promptly so that we may be proceed with the plans to have a public dock and greenspace for the community at the marina.
January Mayor's Message
January 1, 2021
Happy New Year to all! We all remember certain years that have impacted our lives; the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. Martin Luther King Junior’s assassination in 1968. Humans setting foot on the moon in 1969. Nixon resigning in 1974. The birth of the internet in 1983. Hurricane Hugo on September 21, 1989. Amazon being founded in 1994. The founding of Google in 1998. The World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001. The creation of Facebook in 2004. The economic crash of 2008 and it’s resounding effects throughout the next few years. President Obama being elected in 2008 for two terms. Now, of course, the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020. Yes, there were many other important events, but this year’s defining feature was the impact COVID-19 left on all of us and our communities. With optimism, I look forward to 2021. I look forward to seeing the success of the new vaccines and the hope for normalcy. Let us all hope the negativity of 2020 is equally gone with 2020.
Technology has been great in so many ways. It has brought the collective knowledge of humanity to our fingertips. Unfortunately it has also made it easier to create division between groups of people, not only at the national level, but also in our local communities, in our homes, and amongst our families. If you have the opportunity, please watch the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma. I’ll be available if you want to tell me what you think of it. I hope that we would all take to heart the impact that our time on social media can have on the way we think and act. Instead of thinking of the distance between our screen and someone else’s as a weapon or a shield, let us consider it a bridge. Words and thoughts expressed via a keyboard are as impactful as those spoken aloud. I hope that we can all strive to be kinder and more respectful in the new year.
2021 will be my last year of public service to our island and to our Lowcountry. It has been a rewarding experience giving back to my home community. This past year, while serving on the Personnel Committee, I recently went through so many applications from our residents who applied for different Boards and Commissions. We have so many talented people, that it was truly hard to choose who to interview. Whoever was not selected, please think about running for council - your community needs you! Instead of posting about how bad things are, get involved and help make a difference. I often find that when I do not agree with some council members on a particular issue, we can find common ground on others. We need differences of thought and opinion on City Council. The balance between experience, education and worldview is what generates creative and innovative ideas that keep our community alive and vibrant.
We need the Tri-County area to work together to address all of the challenges we face due to the unbridled growth this region has and will continue to experience. We must come up with innovative ideas to protect our communities’ quality of life. We are all in this together. I believe that together, we have all the tools and knowledge we need. Because we all live here, experience these issues firsthand and thus know what is needed for our area.
To misquote Oscar Wilde “Some cause happiness wherever they go, 2020 causes happiness when it goes”. We finally made it through folks. Let us think positive thoughts going forward into this new year. Invest in your community in action and not just words. Together we can make our world, or at least our island, a better place to work, live and play. Before I bid adieu, allow me to say a special thank you to all our City employees and their families. I consider them to be our city family. I wish them a wonderful and joyous new year. To everyone else on both islands, Happy New Year Y’all!
December Mayor's Message
December 1, 2020
It is hard to believe that 2020 is nearing its end. Thanks to COVID-19, the end of this year cannot come soon enough. The pandemic has upended the way we live in ways we never imagined. It has altered how we do things. It has changed how we treat one another and, unfortunately, even made us afraid to be around those we love. Nevertheless, I want to use this opportunity to remind everyone of how much we have to be thankful for. We are reminded every day about the blessing it is to live in this community and to have our health and our families. As we enter this holiday season, please continue to take precautions to protect you, your family, and your work family from the spread of COVID-19. Wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands more frequently. City Council and I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving, and we wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Let us look forward to a vaccine that will allow us to get life back to normal again.
Instead of going down our list of accomplishments and ongoing projects, I would like to encourage you to visit www.iop.net and click on the “Government” tab. In the dropdown, there is a “Projects” category where you will be able to read about the status of many of the City’s current projects, including the conceptual plan for the marina waterfront park, the Phase III Drainage Projects, the new marina restaurant, the marina dock rehabilitation project, and the final stages of the Public Safety Building renovation. Each project includes a timeline from the beginning to the latest developments. Please keep this page in mind when searching for city related business. Also, you can find approved minutes for all Council and Committee meetings at www.iop.net/agendas-minutes and videos of past meetings on the City’s YouTube channel. This is how we remain transparent in our day to day operations.
I’d like to give a heartfelt thank you and express my appreciation to Lynn Perrotti and The Island Eye for publishing this column every other month. I value the opportunity to communicate and connect with our community.
On a sad note for the City, but an exciting one for our Fire Chief, Chief Ann Graham will be retiring at the end of the year. She started her career as a volunteer firefighter on Sullivan’s Island in 1982. After joining the City of Isle of Palms Fire Department in 1985, she worked her way up the ranks and eventually became the first female Fire Chief in South Carolina in 1994. After 35 years of unwavering commitment to our community, she wants to spend more time with her family and grandchildren. Council recently voted to rename the Public Safety Building the Ann Graham & Thomas Buckhannon Public Safety Building to honor the legacy of both Chiefs after giving 35 years and 38 years of public service to the island respectively.
2020 has been a unique and challenging year. We have learned to adapt to the new reality the best we could. It demonstrated that we will always be ready to tackle new challenges no matter what. I would also like to personally thank all our city staff for everything you do to make our lives better and safer on the island. We have been able to overcome these challenges thanks to your commitment to excellent public service, creativity, and high standards. Happy Holidays! Be safe!
November Mayor's Message
November 2, 2020
As we head into the end of 2020, we are nearing completion of our Public Safety Building project. I’m proud to say that we are currently ahead of schedule, and almost $900,000 below budget. Our Fire and Police departments are currently using the building as the finishing touches are being put in place. Our partners in Trident Construction and Coast Architects have worked diligently alongside City staff and our owner’s representatives from Insight Group to make this project a success. I am grateful to them for their efforts and look forward to seeing the new home of our Police and Fire departments placed in service soon.
We are also saving over half a million dollars by refurbishing our ladder truck instead of buying a new one. This refurbishment is well under way and we should have the truck back shortly. This is more than just a repair and overhaul. We have a list of 37 items which are being done to bring the truck up to the latest in safety and technology standards including new lighting on the ladder, a backup camera, and an intercom system in the cab.
Of course, we would be remiss in not mentioning that we have finally come to agreeable terms on our marina restaurant lease. This lease which is a significant step on the road to the opening of a new restaurant at the marina will have second reading on November 3rd. After 11 months of special meetings and negotiations, we are finally done. Every member of council hates having to go into executive session as much as our residents hate hearing us do it. Unfortunately, we must hold discussions surrounding lease negotiations in executive session in order to secure the most beneficial terms for the City.
As part of these lease terms tenant will invest approximately $2,000,000 on a complete renovation of the building, improved landscaping, enhanced outdoor facilities, and the parking lot. The City will not be directly investing in the restaurant property and no public funds will be used during the 24-year term of the lease on the building or restaurant grounds. The City will have final approval rights of the building design prior to construction and a 3rd party inspector will oversee the construction on behalf of the City. The tenant will be responsible for the capital investment and risk, as well as construction management, and the ongoing maintenance of the City owned asset.
Moving forward, after second reading we are expecting the tenant to begin construction this fall. The current schedule projects that they will bring a family friendly, affordable, neighborhood restaurant for residents and visitors to enjoy year-round by spring or summer of 2021. Further information about the Marina restaurant is available on our website at www.iop.net/projects. The timeline for the dock rehabilitation project is available on the same website. We expect to have the marina dock rehabilitation project complete in five to six months from the date construction begins. Speaking of the Marina; We are currently discussing with a landscape architect, options for the design of our public green space along the water’s edge to go with the public dock. We will finally have free public access to the water, sunsets, and more.
Looking further into the future, we have achieved a memorandum of understanding with the Isle of Palms Water and Sewer Commission. This is a major step towards providing sewer to the whole island but there are still a lot of hurdles to overcome. Please do not jump to conclusions about pump stations. There are many of them around the island today that no one even sees. We, and our planning commission, will be looking out for our residents throughout this process. Given our location and what is happening with sea level rise however, it is inevitable that septic systems will fail over time. For that reason, we must be more proactive in providing sewer lines across the island to protect our environment.
I want to give special recognition during this letter to Terry McKenzie, an island resident who is also employed with the Isle of Palms Water and Sewer Commission. City Council has conferred the “Signal 30” Award to Terry for special citizen service. This award is given to those who go above and beyond what is expected of citizens to help other people. In this instance, Terry happened to be passing by a home in the local area and noticed a generator attached to the home was on fire. No one had yet reported the fire and the home was occupied. Terry acted quickly and put out the fire at great risk to himself. Thus, saving the life of the occupant in the process.
Lastly, I wish to apologize. After 3 years of God only knows how many meetings, I had a memory lapse in opening our October City Council meeting with the pledge of allegiance. I am almost never at a loss for words, but I had spent quite a bit of time earlier in the day with a friend who may not have that long left and my mind was elsewhere. I had a senior moment at the worst possible time and for that I apologize. Welcome to starting to collect social security.
September Mayor's Message - Important Updates of City Projects
September 4, 2020
The past 6 months have been truly challenging as we continue to grapple with an ongoing pandemic that has dramatically changed the world we know. Things may not be back to normal for many months to come. 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 5 months. The deadlines for submission of proposals is September 11, 2020 and we expect Council to award a contract by the end of this month and issue a notice to proceed by September 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 & Bridget Bushnell and Dave & 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 tenant plans to renovate the building and grounds starting this winter with hopes to open the outdoor area by late spring and then open the interior of the building in Summer 2021.
In April of last year, City Council voted to not automatically renew the existing watersports lease, currently held by Tidal Wave Watersports, after it expires on September 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 greenspace 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 it has historically followed before awarding a new lease at the marina.
The City of Isle of Palms has a very valuable asset in the City-owned marina and Council intends to maximize its potential for the benefit of all members of our community. We cannot successfully and objectively weigh all alternatives if encumbered by a five-year extension of this lease with the current watersports operator. 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 okay. 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 beach goers 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 which 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 3rd and 9th, and Breach Inlet. The new paid parking plan would start next year. The current plan includes charging an hourly fee of $2.50 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. between March 1st and October 31st. Vehicles with a valid residential parking decal may park along these areas at no extra cost. The City Isle of Palms has 8 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 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and have multiple stops on the Isle of Palms. Click here to learn more about the IOP Beach Shuttle.
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 and 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 find it necessary to limit access to all of, 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 are busy planning for a memorable and different Halloween celebration on Saturday, October 31st from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. The City will host a Halloween Golf Cart Parade and Drive Through Haunted House! The Golf Cart 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 Monday, October 5th. As a reminder, according to state law, golf cart owners must have a permit from the DMV and proof of insurance to drive a golf cart on the road. “Just Beachy Golf Cart Rentals” and “IOP Cart Rentals” have agreed to offer a discount for cart rentals should a family need one. More info on www.iop.net
August Mayor's Message
August 7, 2020
Dear Island Residents,
Wow, what a year 2020 has been! I must apologize to those council members I encouraged to run. Never in my 8 and a half years of service have I seen as many challenges in such a short time as those we have encountered this year.
Speaking of challenges, the marina is another challenge. Exciting news though, we are in the process of signing a lease with a group that everyone loves. We are excited about having them in place soon and opening the restaurant next spring. Soon we will be enjoying eating and drinking at one of the most beautiful locations on the Isle of Palms. The city bought this property in 1999 through a public referendum with an overwhelming vote in favor to buy it to preserve public access to the water. We, the residents, wanted to have water access and not lose it to developers. Now it is this council’s turn to get it right. Whatever we do, it will be our legacy and it will be done by putting our residents first.
This year, we have also been working on the improvements to the Public Safety building that was built in 2008. The City approved funds to repair some significant deficiencies and we are excited to be coming in under budget and ahead of schedule with this important project. Weather permitting, the project should be completed by November 2020. I cannot wait for our public safety personnel to be back in their offices.
Another recently completed project is the sidewalk that connects the shoulder of the IOP Connector with the sidewalk along Palm Boulevard. The Transportation Sales Tax (TST) funds paid for the construction of this project which also improved and beautified the Leola Hanbury Memorial Park. The new pathway looks great and the lighting up into the grand oak at night is beautiful. This project safely separates the pedestrian and vehicular traffic coming off the IOP Connector. I’ve seen lots of people using and enjoying this new amenity!
One of our hot topics continues to be drainage and flooding. Well, we have budgeted 3.2 million for improvements to 3 of the City’s major drainage outfalls, located at 41st, 36th, and 30th.Avenues. As part of this project, we are also looking at improvements to the multipurpose path along Waterway Boulevard. The goal is to improve and elevate it so that it may provide more protection from flooding. The FY21 budget contains a half a million to do other smaller projects around the island based on need. One day, we will need to tackle the whole island, not just these little projects.
Adding to these critical challenges is the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in March, and has certainly been disruptive and unprecedented. Council’s last in person meeting was in February and every council and committee meeting has been held virtually via zoom and live-streamed on YouTube. The community has been more engaged than ever; these meetings have exceeded 600 concurrent viewers at times. Thanks to everyone for embracing the technology and adapting with us as we adapt to this new reality brought by the pandemic.
When Charleston became the third COVID-19 hotspot in the world, I participated in several meetings with the Mayors of our neighboring communities and other beach towns. All of which were extremely worried about the continuous upward trend of COVID-19 positive test results in our region and all agreed that more needed to be done to try to flatten the curve and reduce the increase of new cases. I called an Emergency Meeting of Council on Wednesday, July 15th, to discuss what emergency measures we could take to do our part at reducing the overcrowding of people in our community and our beach. At that meeting, Council voted to restrict parking temporarily for 30 days to help avoid crowds and ensure social distancing on the beach. These restrictions expire on Sunday, August 16, 2020 and on Thursday, August 13, Council will have another Special Meeting to review and discuss these emergency measures. The City’s priority is to protect the health and safety of those who live on the Isle of Palms and all that visit our beach.
As if a global pandemic was not enough to help keep everyone on their toes, we had the threat of a Cat 1 Hurricane. Thankfully, the storm stayed offshore and didn’t bring damage to our City. It was a good trial run for our staff that now needs to prepare and respond to storms during a pandemic. After seeing the actions of our employees firsthand, I am proud to say the City of Isle of Palms is ready to respond to any current or future storm.
Unfortunately, we have had to cancel a lot of public events, but we do so out of an overabundance of caution. Our city employees, in every department, continue to go above and beyond the call of duty during this pandemic. If you see a public works employee, a recreation department employee, a police officer, fire personnel, or any other member of city staff; Please thank them and thank your city council for doing what they feel is best for our residents.
It is my honor to serve as your Mayor,
Staying Laser Focused on our Goals
February 20, 2020
The Isle of Palms City Council has a full plate for 2020. As we have been discussing for years, and planning for months, we are set to start our Public Safety Building renovation in March. We have 5 mobile office trailers to house both the Police and Fire Department Headquarters. We have begun the relocation process and hooking the trailers to the utilities, cable, and such. The City's new 75' ladder truck will be delivered in the coming weeks plus our newly refurbished 95' ladder truck is in the final stages of completion. In addition, we continue to work with Thomas and Hutton on the final design and state and federal permitting process for the improvements to the 3 drainage outfalls located at the end of 30th, 36th and 41st Avenue. The construction of the drainage project is estimated at $2.9M.
The City is also waiting on the final set of permits for the IOP Marina dock rehabilitation project. The docks along Morgan Creek have exceeded the end of their useful life and need to be replaced. The City is working with Applied Technology Management who is developing the final drawings and specifications for the project. Once the US Army Corps of Engineers issues the final permit, the City will be able to complete the bid documents to competitively procure the construction of the repairs. The project will also include needed maintenance on the bulkhead. The goal is for construction to start after Labor Day. The construction of this project is estimated at $3.2M.
Last month, the City held a public workshop to gather feedback about the community's vision for the IOP Marina. We had a packed house and due to the fire code, we could not fit in the room everyone who wanted to participate. However, lots of folks submitted a written form at the meeting, and many others provided feedback via an online form available on the City's website www.iop.net. The City is working on compiling the results of the public comments, the written comments and the online questionnaires. It's not too late to go to www.iop.net and look under latest news at the top and fill out the questionnaire on what you, our residents, envision at the marina. The City wants what our residents want, it is not about any one council members' vision, but what our residents want.
The City is also going through a due diligence period for the restaurant lease. We feel confident we will be moving forward with something that will best suit our residents desire for a waterside dining spot.
This month, the City held the first budgeting workshop to discuss our goals for the next budget year and prioritize among the projects and needs the city is faced with in the next coming years. It is clear drainage remains at the top of the list. There were preliminary discussions about the possibility of pursuing a larger island wide drainage project. We know this is a priority for our community and we need to determine how to best approach it and how it will be funded. Other discussions included the rehabilitation of the Waterway Boulevard multi use path, and the future maintenance of the City-owned portion of Ocean Boulevard between 10th and 14th Avenue. There are all kinds of wish list items that some would like to have, but we need to take care of our needs first. Equally important to me, is that we ensure that we take care of our City family. It is getting tougher and tougher to compete with the growth of neighboring cities and their need for experienced and professional employees. We, as a City, need to constantly understand that the cost of living in our area is higher than the national average and is always going up. Most of our employees must travel significant distances to get to work and this travel is both time consuming and expensive. Our employees are the best. They are professionals that are committed to serving our community and we need to let them know that we support them and their needs.
The City needs to stay laser focused on all these important projects that will enhance and protect our quality of life, and on retaining our highly skilled and experienced personnel. We have the lowest tax millage around, and the City has not raised taxes for a number of years because we have always remained fiscally conservative. However, there comes a time when we need to increase revenues to pursue important projects and ensure the same level of service for our community.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Mayor and thank you for electing a great City Council.
Happy New Year!
January 15, 2020
The Isle of Palms City Council welcomed three new members earlier this month. Phillip Pounds, Kevin Popson and Rusty Streetman were sworn-in along Jimmy Ward who was reelected to serve on City Council. The City is lucky to have residents who want to volunteer their time to serve our great community. We have many challenges ahead of us and I am proud of the team the City has in place and happy with the direction the City is going.
New laws went into effect on the Isle of Palms as soon as the clock stroke midnight. We are proud to start a new decade as a plastic and smoke free beach! The Isle of Palms is our little piece of paradise and we all want to do everything we can to protect it and preserve it for generations to come.
Smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes or other smoking devices used for the purpose of inhaling and exhaling smoke, such as vaping devices, is prohibited on the Isle of Palms beach and beach access paths. Also, citizens will no longer be able to bring and use single-use plastic bags, plastic straws, Polystyrene (Styrofoam) food containers, cups and balloons on the Isle of Palms beach. These regulations are aimed at improving our environment by reducing litter and encouraging the use of reusable, recyclable and compostable products. Plastic and foam products filter into our waterways and the ocean, where they are harmful to marine life. The City's goal is not to be punitive but encourage and ensure a cleaner, safer, healthier and more enjoyable environment for people, wildlife and marine life.
On Thursday, January 30th, the City will hold a community marina workshop at the Recreation Center to gather feedback from the community about their vision for the Isle of Palms Marina. City Council views the implementation of the community's vision for the marina as part of our legacy and something the island's residents will be proud of and enjoy for years to come. The community workshop will be collaborative session where participants will be assigned to work groups gathered at round tables with a facilitator who will record feedback and ideas. This structure of meeting will allow everyone who attends to be equally heard and share their vision. The workshop will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Recreation Center. If you are unable to attend, you may still share your vision by filling out this form.
As you know, the existing marina restaurant lease expires later this year. After following the request for proposal process, last month City Council voted to enter exclusive negotiations with the IOP Families Group (Lorenz's & Bushnell's) for a new lease and begin a 90-day due diligence period. Their vision for a family friendly restaurant offering modern casual dining resonated with the community and with City Council.
If you haven't already, please apply for the 2020 Resident Parking Permit. This permit will allow you to legally park your vehicle along the public right of way in the Residential Parking District from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Residents and property owners may apply online at here or at the Public Safety Building located at 30 J C Long Boulevard. The new regulations state that vehicles must parallel park at least 4 feet off the pavement when parking in the public right-of-way along Palm Boulevard between 41st and 53rd Avenue.
Keep up with official City businesses by vising the City's website at www.iop.net and the official Facebook and Twitter accounts.