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Feb 04 2011

Seabrook Town Council – January 25, 2011

Financials

Mayor Holtz was happy to note that the Town’s revenues are almost equal to last year-to-date and in fact, are $10,965.71 better than last year-to-date. Excess of revenues over expenditures are $442,171.51, which is $166,372.03 more than budgeted. “We came out with a nice excess that will be invested back into the town,” said Holtz, noting that while the town often gives back to its residents via the water company, there is concern that the town will be receiving much less in accommodations tax money from both the state and county this year. “So even though we have money, we’re not going to spend it all,” said Holtz. “We’ll be frugal, but promoting Seabrook is our number one goal, as well as improving the roads, and we will continue to put pressure on the county to have a plan for the Johns Island roads.”

Exchange Club hopes to hold run on Seabrook

“We have some really good looking people here today,” smiled Councilman Sam Reed, welcoming Kiawah-Seabrook Exchange Club president Mike Morris, Pat Welsh, Jim Shaw and Nick Porter to the council meeting. Morris thanked Reed and stated that he was in attendance as a representative of the Exchange Club and that he would like to discuss a plan to hold a 5k and 10k race on Seabrook Island on the Saturday before Easter Sunday.

“Basically, there are three things we feel the race would do to benefit this area,” said Morris. “It would benefit the Exchange Club as we will be sponsors of the race and this would hopefully be another source of revenue to support our causes. It will also provide great publicity for the island and will also support and promote the Marina as the race will start and end there.”

Pat Welsh, co-owner of the Marina, noted that they came up with the idea for an Exchange Club-sponsored fishing tournament years ago and the idea for the Club’s annual phone directory was a direct result of that tournament. “I guess, fortunately or unfortunately, the phone directory became so successful that we didn’t do the fishing tournament anymore,” said Welsh. However, the race would be a great way to start bringing people out to the island. Easter weekend is one of the busiest weekends on Kiawah Island and families can arrive a day or two beforehand and enjoy the islands before the race. “We’ve had nothing but positive response so far and the Marina wants to get behind it,” said Welsh, “So let’s cut right to the chase and discuss the benefits and problems of the race.”

While the benefits are numerous in terms of promoting the island and providing added resources for the Exchange Club, the problems basically focused on how traffic would be handled during the run. Welsh suggested that several other runs in the area take place without closing any of the roads and during some, such as the Charlie Post Classic on Sullivan’s Island, a car might pass you on the route.

Proposed 10K route

“We suggest starting at Marina and stopping traffic in all directions for about five minutes, then run the course through the exit side of gate,” said Welsh. “At eight in morning, people checking in should be at minimum. From there, we would monitor and keep runners in one lane of traffic. From gun to gun the race will be over in about one hour with most finished in 45 minutes. As the last runner makes their round, volunteers will pick up watering stations, cups, tables, etc. and we’ll be done.”

Proposed route for the Seabrook 5K

Holtz noted that the Town Administrator, Randy Pierce, would still have to issue a permit for the event and the group would have to show that the event would work. Welsh stated that they have the approval of about half a dozen island entities and organizations and all feel that the event will be a good one for the island. He also presented two maps of the island depicting the 5k and the 10k route for the race. “The 5k was a challenge as it’s a short distance, so the best we could do was take the route to the intersection of Seabrook Island Road, turn left to Village Creek Drive and return.” The 10k would be a more scenic route around the island and Welsh noted that the routes were not set in stone. “We’re flexible,” he pointed out. In terms of organizing the actual run and providing bibs, microchips, post race results, etc., the group has asked Extra Mile, a running shop with experience in organizing races, to help put on the event.

Council agreed unanimously that the race would be a great idea and approved the 5 and 10 k race on Easter weekend based on the group receiving a proper permit, which will include the routes and how it will be handled logistically. “It will be fun,” smiled Holtz.

Rolling along with the Roads

Councilman Reed stated that there is a tentative hope that the town will be able to get things moving on the need to improve the roads on Johns Island. With the approval of Council, Seabrook Island will collaborate with Kiawah Island to hire a representative to help the islands work with County Council on a plan for the roads. Seabrook’s portion of the cost would be up to $2,000/month for five months with a proviso that if the contract is not carried out, that the town would have the right to stop payment at any time. Council approved the expenditure unanimously.

Town considers public relations firms

Councilman Terry Ahearn noted that, while the Visibility Committee for the town has discussed working with a public relations firm called The Greenbrier Firm, they will be hearing a presentation from local public relations firm Obviouslee Marketing, the company that helped the Town design their new website. They will then review the proposals from and determine which, if any, company would be the best fit for promoting the island. Ahearn also noted that, while they had discussed an initial contract of six months with a firm, he has since spoken with several business owners and determined that six months is too short a time to see significant results, especially if they advertise in monthly or quarterly magazines. In light of this, he asked council that, if they did decide to go with one of the firms, that they enter into a contract for a year with the right of the town to terminate the contract with 30 days notice after six months. John Burns, a Seabrook resident with more than 30 years experience as an advertising director in New York city, has also volunteered to help the visibility committee where he can. In addition, Ahearn noted that the Visibility Committee is exploring the possibility of getting into the June edition of Southwest Airline’s in-flight magazine.

Lastly, Ahearn reported that they have started a program with local and regional real estate agents called “Reintroduction to Seabrook Island” the Visibility Committee has invited realtors from 11 major area companies to a presentation of the island and a tour of the new facilities. The idea was born from the fact that some incorrect rumors were being spread that the Seabrook Club was potentially going broke and committee wants to dispel those rumors. The presentation will be held on February 15 at the Island Club at 10 a.m.

Website committee

Councilman Jerry Cummin reminded Council that the new website has gone live, and that two new large rental companies on the island have been added to their links page. The standing rule is that a company must handle more than 10 rentals on Seabrook to be included on the links page. The next meeting with the website designers will be in three months when they will go over the number of hits the website is receiving and how it’s ranking in search engines. Cummin also noted that the Marina is updating their website and that they have recently changed their name from Bohicket Marina and Yacht Club to Bohicket Marina and Market.

Saving The Seabrooker

Sally Schenck, co-editor of The Seabrooker, was in attendance during the meeting and Mayor Holtz stated that the town met with Sally and co-editor Marcia Hider concerning their retirement from the long-running island publication. Holtz reported that the Council discussed supporting The Seabrooker financially for a period of six months for $6,000 under the supervision of Councilman Rob Savin until new management could be found. The company is a 501 (c)3 organization, which allows the Town to support the paper. Council approved unanimously a motion to reserve $7,000 with $1,000 of that amount in reserve to support the paper. “This next edition of The Seabrooker will be our real appeal for a replacement,” said Schenck. “If we don’t find someone, the paper will stop. It probably won’t end, but it will stop. Hopefully someone will come before that.”

Parking for the PGA

Mayor Holtz reported that Bret Sterba of the PGA’s coordinating committee dropped by to discuss some ideas for parking solutions during the 2012 tournament. 94% of the tickets for the tournament have already been sold and they are expecting roughly 15,000 cars per day arriving on the island. Since the traffic circle will not be able to handle that volume of traffic, the committee is proposing to clear out a fair amount of land owned by VIT – the owners of The Sanctuary and Ocean Course – for parking in the lot across from St. Johns Real Estate. The vast majority of the area appears to be open according to satellite photos, with a stretch of woods on the Seabrook side. Holtz noted that the land is not a part of Seabrook Island as the town has never annexed it. The proposed parking area wraps around the back of Freshfields Village, emptying onto Kiawah Island Road. An entrance would have to be cleared across the Seabrook Island and Kiawah Island bike paths, but both would be restored to their original condition after the tournament. Traffic would also flow in one direction, with traffic entering the parking lot from the Seabrook side and leaving from the Kiawah side. “That’s the theory behind it, anyway,” said Holtz, pointing out that he appreciates the PGA tackling the project now instead of closer to the tournament date. “[Parking] won’t be easy no matter what way you do it, but this seems to be easier,” said Holtz.

Councilman Ahearn expressed concern that parking traffic would have to cross oncoming traffic in both directions, but Peirce noted that the PGA committee has been dealing with these sorts of situations for years and would consider all options. However, they need to get moving soon as they will have to start dealing with DHEC and OCRM immediately if they are going to get the temporary lot ready in time.

“It will be painful, but we’ll get more out of this in the end. If work needs to be done, they’ll do it and when they leave, you won’t be able to tell they were here,” said Peirce, noting that they will also have sheriff’s deputies on duty to keep traffic moving and from people parking illegally. He also remarked that some temporary fencing might have to be installed to keep people from parking on the lawns around the bike path.

Council comments

Councilman Reed stated that the Utility Commission hopes to do their best pay back the $440,000 it borrowed from the Town by the end of the year. “If true, it will be a nice infusion of cash,” said Reed.

Ordinances 2011-01 and 2011-02

Town Administrator Peirce briefly ran through the first two ordinances of the new year, noting that both are simply verifications that the town recently had their Town Code and Development Standards reviewed, renumbered and recodified by a national recodification company. “Nothing new was created by doing this, it’s just a matter of organizing and putting everything into one manual, which makes it easier to handle,” said Pierce. Council approved both ordinances unanimously. The second reading will be held during the February Council meeting.

Report from the CVB

Katie Chapman of the Charleston Visitors Bureau reported that they are doing a big push on travel packages in a program called “Good Neighbors, Great Getaways” with specials through the end of March. She was also happy to note that Southwest will start serving the area as of March 13, and the next edition of the Virginia Sportsman, hopefully containing a mention of Seabrook Island, will be out in March. Councilman Ahearn thanked Chapman for her help in contacting the marketing manager for Southwest Airlines.

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