May 13 2011

Seabrook Town Council – April 26, 2011


Revenues for the month stand at $74,628.80 against a budget of $62,876, and expenditures are $3,737.42 below budget, coming in at $60,660.92. Compared to last year-to-date, the town is $3,403.15 ahead of last year, and above budget by $24,924.57,  “Which pleases me,” said Mayor Bill Holtz. “Hopefully we’ll have some funds left over at the end of all this with which we can do some wonderful things.”

Supporting a helipad at Roper St. Francis

As promised during last month’s Kiawah Council meeting, the fundraising team from Roper St. Francis arrived at the Seabrook Council meeting to discuss their efforts to raise $2 million to have a helipad installed on the roof of the downtown hospital.

Roper St. Francis currently utilizes the roof of the President Street parking garage along with MUSC.  The problem is that use of the helipad requires the factoring in of an additional 15 to 20 minutes for an ambulance to transport a patient from the roof, across the street, through traffic and to the hospital for treatment. With a helipad on the roof of Roper St. Francis, a patient could simply be removed from the helicopter and whisked down the elevator to the emergency room or cath lab. Dr. Patrick Kelly explained how vital those extra minutes are in the case of a cardiac arrest or stroke.

“These times make a significant difference,” said Dr. Kelly. “Time is heart, muscle and brain cells.” He further described how even short increments of ten minutes can exponentially increase your risk of death following a stroke.

“What would you like the town to do?” asked Councilman Sam Reed.

“We need you to be in support of it, and we look to members of the community for philanthropic dollars,” replied Dr. Kelly.

The helipad, the team explained, will need to be built entirely with funds donated by the community, and one of the biggest areas of expense is running enough water to the roof to put out a fire in case of an emergency; a feature which is required by law for rooftop helipads.

The team has also identified several locations on both Kiawah and Seabrook which could be used to collect patients for transport to Roper St. Francis via helicopter. They stressed that they’d like to have the helipad in place by the 2012 PGA tournament, if at all possible.

“This makes a lot of sense and it’s something we desperately need,” said Holtz. “We’re all behind it. Let’s start raising the money and make this happen.”

Petitioning for the Greenway

Councilman Sam Reed reported on the Roads committee, noting that they are continuing to receive updates from the consultant engaged by the Kiawah Island Community Association. “People on Johns Island are the key,” said Reed. “We need to get their support for the Greenway.” Maurice Washington, KICA’s roads consultant, is currently circulating petitions in support of the Greenway, and he has reported that the people he is dealing with “are becoming more and more convinced that the Greenway is in their best interest.” To show their support, Reed stated that Kiawah and Seabrook residents should also sign a petition showing their support of the cross island road. “At some point, we may be asking people if they’re willing to put their name on a piece of paper,” said Reed.

The Johns Island Museum

Cost a factor in preserving the Johns Island Museum

The Johns Island Museum is a small, 20 by 30 foot schoolhouse built in the mid-1800s, and while it has stood in a few locations around the island over the years, its most recent home has been on the back of the former Rosebank produce stand property. Since the stand was taken down in January of this year, owner Betty Stringfellow has asked the Town of Seabrook if they would like to take over this little piece of island history. The only caveat is that it has to be moved, and the estimated cost of the move is climbing faster than the Council would like.

Over the past month, Town Administrator Randy Piece has been working to collect estimates on the aspects of the move, and a consultation with the Oswalt Moving Company determined that the actual move itself could be done for less than $30,000 barring unforeseen circumstances. However, other costs will include the clearing and preparation of the schoolhouse’s new location, along with fill soil to raise the lot for drainage and to built it above base flood elevation, building a foundation, reconnecting the electric and HVAC and minor repairs that might need to be done. All told, the cost for these items alone would run around $50,000.

“I just don’t think Town Hall will spend $100,000 to put a museum on our land,” said Mayor Holtz. “We would spend $20,000 or $30,000, but it’s not our intention to spend $100,000. We would like to see it preserved and not go to rot, but Angel Oak or one of those places is probably better suited for people to go see a museum.”

“In abstract, having a museum here is a great idea,” said Councilman Terry Ahearn, “but the reality is, will it attract the most people and who much will it cost?” He then suggested that the Bohicket Marina consider moving it onto their property, as they have a good amount of traffic there.

Resident Alan Armstrong protested the discussion of considering other locations for the schoolhouse, pointing out that it would be a shame to lose something like this. “The Council has been talking about making Seabrook more attractive,” said Armstrong. “This could become a center for culture and history and wildlife. I think it would add a great deal to the island. We would all kick ourselves in the behind for letting this opportunity pass. Let’s see if we can find a way to say ‘yes’ to this.”

Peter Hubbard, president of the Seabrook Island Natural History Group, also stressed that their group would be happy to handle the general and day-to-day maintenance of the building.

“What I need is an organized letter from the Natural History group saying what you will do to take care of this, not just an indication of support,” Holtz told Hubbard. “The town just can’t run a museum effectively with only two full time staff members and one part time. There’s a lot of responsibility in this thing; it’s not simplistic.”

While the Council did not make any decisions either way on whether or not to accept and move the old schoolhouse, Holtz closed the discussion by stating that the Council will continue to look into the issue. “It’s not a dead issue. We will gather the facts and when we have them all, we’ll vote. It’s not a case of not wanting to do it, it’s the wherewithal to do it.”

Community Relations report

Councilman Terry Ahearn gave a quick update on the Visibility committee, stating that they will once again be holding Kiawah Days on Seabrook following the success of last year’s campaign. In 2010, more than 400 cars visited on the designated Wednesdays to tour Seabrook with the help of several volunteers.

In terms of advertising Seabrook Island, Ahearn announced that they have finalized the design of a full page ad to run in the June edition of Southwest Airlines’ in-flight magazine. Thanks to the help of Seabrook resident John Burns, the ad features a beautiful shot of a couple horseback riding on the beach, and lists some of the many features of Seabrook Island below, along with a link to the town website. “We’re hoping for the best and we’ll find out,” Ahearn smiled.

Island Communications

Councilman Jerry Cummin reported that they are looking into ways to make the new town website’s community calendar more active, and are hoping to get more out of their marketing company than a quarterly report. However, they have been receiving good reactions from people concerning the new website. Another aspect of the website which they are hoping to emphasize is the utilization of an “emergency” button which residents can click to get the latest information on dangerous weather and other emergency situations. “We’re working on that and will report on it,” said Cummin.

Lastly, Cummin was also happy to report that the March 23 meeting of the Charleston Visitor’s Bureau at the Island Clubhouse was a great success, and thanked Katie Chapman for her help in putting the event together.

Ready for the Earthquake Drill

Councilman Rob Savin stated that the Council and the island’s CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) team were ready for the county-wide earthquake drill that coming Thursday, and that the CERT members would spend the day looking for pre-planted “emergency” situations around the island. “They won’t know where they are and they will have to report back by shortwave radio,” said Savin, noting tha they would also be testing their radios with the county, as well as testing the satellite radios. Afterward, the disaster recovery council would meet at Red’s Ice House to discuss how they felt about the practice drill and what improvements they could make in order to be more effective in an actual situation.

“I appreciate Rob working on this,” said Mayor Holtz. “The number one thing we have to do is communicate.”

Signs, signs, everywhere a tasteful sign

Ordinance 2011-04: An Ordinance to Amend Sections 8 and 12 of the Town’s Development Standards ordinance to allow for tasteful signs to be placed throughout the Bohicket Marina passed first reading unanimously. The town Planning Commission has worked on the wording of the ordinance for three months, and Holtz stated that he knows the shop owners at the marina are anxious to get the ordinance approved. A public hearing on the ordinance will be held just before the next council meeting in May.

Transferring election authority to Charleston County

While the Council unanimously approved the first reading of ordinance 2011-03: an ordinance to transfer authority for conducting municipal elections to the board of elections and voter registration of Charleston County, it was found that Charleston County requires three readings and an approval from the justice department before they could take over authority. Therefore, the effective date has been changed to January 1, 2012, so that the town will be able to handle the upcoming November elections. Council approved the change and second reading unanimously. In related news, the Council also unanimously approved Beverly Baird to replace Eugene Corrigan on the Municipal Election Commission for a term to expire on December 31, 2013, so that she could handle the November elections.

Seabrook Water Utility requests to borrow $1.3 million for equipment repair

While the Seabrook Water Utility would like to request a loan of $1.3 million from the Water Quality Revolving Fund Authority to repair and replace several pieces of equipment around the island, it is required by law that the town of Seabrook sign off on the loan, as well. “We pass the resolution, then they apply to the state and they pass an ordinance to allow the loan,” Holtz explained. “The Water Commission is responsible for paying it back.”

Joe Hall of the Water Utility stated that there are four items they are looking to address with the loan, all of which had been explained during a previous Ways and Means meeting. The Council members were content with the repairs Hall described, except for one. Councilman Savin asked about the water disinfection process which uses a chlorine to sodium hypochlorite reaction. His concern, he stated, was the quantity of residual sodium left in the effluent water, which is currently used to water the golf course.

Hall stated that it would be less than 500 parts per million and it would have very little effect on the grass.

“No matter how you slice it, you’re putting more salt on the golf courses,” said Savin. “That’s my position as a microbiologist. If the Water Commission is willing to take the liability that what they are going to do will not harm the golf courses, and that they will take care of the golf courses if something happens to them and will not raise rates if they have to fix it, then I’ll support it.”

Hall pointed out that the Water Commission currently meets all standards for using chlorine, and that this particular process was recommended to them. “We will investigate it and if it does any harm, we’ll take it out of the project,” he assured the Council.

Holtz asked that, if they went ahead with the resolution, that Hall report back to them with their findings before finalizing the loan and Hall agreed. Council approved the resolution with Councilman Savin abstaining.

Town Administrator’s Report

Town Administrator Randy Pierce thanked John Thompson of the Seabrook Island Property Owners Association for helping to get the word out about the earthquake drill, and stated that the first annual Bohicket/Seabrook 5k and 10k went very well. His only recommendation for next year, he said, was to stop traffic in both directions because some runners were spilling over into the oncoming traffic lane. “We’d stop traffic maybe five minutes at most,” he said. “We just doing want someone to get pushed or trip into an oncoming car.”

Concerns over the concrete rubble pile

Before closing the meeting, Mayor Holtz stated that he has contacted Buddy Darby in regards to the pile of concrete rubble on the bike path side of Seabrook Island Road as you approach the front gate. The pile, he said, is what’s left of the River Course building after it burned down last year. “We’re waiting for him to come back to us and if he doesn’t contact us in a week, then we’ll go to the county about it,” said Holtz.

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