Mayor Holtz reported that, for the month and two months ending in February, revenues compared to the budget are in good shape, but the Town is down about $16,000 from last year. “It’s not as bad as January,” said Holtz, “so we seem to be catching up.” Expenses are in line, with the Town spending $1,311.24 less than budgeted, and excess of revenues over expenditures is $65,927.31, which is almost $39,000 better than budgeted, though it still falls short of last year-to-date, which came in at $86,291.28.
“On business licenses, we’re running about $20,000 below what we expected, mostly on new builds, which are starting to come back up,” said the Mayor, though he was happy to report that, according to the Town Administrator, three new houses are already scheduled to be built on the island, while there were only six built all of last year. “Things seem to be picking up,” said Holtz.
St. Johns Fire Department and the River Course fire
Dr. Sue Holloman, Fire Commissioner for the St. Johns Fire Department, dropped by the Council to say “hi” and give an update on the status of the department. Although she had scheduled her visit several weeks in advance, the recent fire at the River Course on Kiawah gave her a chance to talk about the department’s structure and training and how they handled the situation.
“We have an exceptionally well-trained department, which is the key to good fire fighting,” said Holloman, elaborating on the new training system which requires battalion chief candidates to go through a slew of testing which includes conflict resolution and the use of the incident command center. During the River Course fire, Holloman noted that she spoke with Chief Ristow about the second blaze, and he stated that his department brought in thermal imaging and put holes in the walls, but they saw no evidence of fire. The morning kitchen crew came in at 6 a.m. to start cooking breakfast and the fire crew left, only to be called back a short time later to find that the whole roof was engaged. “We feel that it wasn’t the same fire, but it might have been the same cause,” said Holloman. For the sake of liability, the investigation into the fire has been turned over to the North Charleston Fire Department.
“The cause is still unknown and it will probably be a couple months until we find out what happened.”
During the fire, however, she was happy to report that the department appeared to handle themselves very well. The incident command center was put in place and through it, the firefighters were made aware that the roof was slate and heavier than average roofs. The safety officer noted this and backed the firefighters out of the building 20 minutes before the roof caved in. The safety officer was also able to determine that the walls were threatening to collapse and backed people and equipment away from the sides of the building fifteen minutes before they gave way. No personnel were hurt and no firemen injured.
Dr. Holloman encouraged the Council and any citizens who are interested in the management of the St. Johns Fire Department to attend an upcoming meeting at the Seabrook Town Hall on April 12, starting at 7 p.m. “We would love to have you come and see the Fire Commission at work,” said Holloman, noting that the end of the meeting would be open for a question and answer period.
Lastly, Dr. Holloman pointed out that if a fire occurs in your home or on your property, call 9-1-1 immediately. A recent incident encouraged her to remind everyone of this, as the owner of a multi-million dollar house on Kiawah called his security system about a home fire before calling the gate, who in turned called the fire department for him. “The Fire Department was there three minutes after receiving the call,” said Holloman. “So the moral of the story is, if there’s a fire, call 9-1-1, not your security system.”
Update on the Johns Island roads study and tree trimming
Councilman Sam Reed noted that they are still awaiting a report from LPA, the group studying the possible widening of Main and Bohicket roads, as well as the possible construction of the Johns Island Greenway. Although they had been expecting to release the report at the end of March, the group is now saying that it will probably be done in April or May. On a positive note, however, Reed stated that the Greenway project has been placed on the County of Governments TIP list, which is the first step toward being considered for public funding.
“The county continues to talk somewhat about a public/private relationship for the Greenway, which the LPA says would make the most sense,” said Reed. “It’s not our favorite proposal because it would mean a toll road, but if it’s that or nothing, it may be a toll road. There’s lots of pressure to get it done quickly and I can only imagine that the pressure has something to do with a big event in 2012.”
On a different note, Mayor Holtz was happy to report that Seabrook was instrumental in acquiring funding from the federal government in order to trim dead tree limbs above 14 feet along Bohicket, River and Main roads. “We’re very fortunate to get that,” said the Mayor. “Every once in a while, you get lucky.”
Water Utility pump station update
Joe Hall reported that the Water Utility in is the wind down stage of the FEMA project and have paid all but $50,000 of the $1.6 million cost, 75% of which will be paid by FEMA. “The project has come in on schedule and 10 of the 24 stations have been landscaped,” said Hall, stating that they’ve built three fences to date and are going out for bids on four more fenced areas. The cost of landscaping is entirely the responsibility of the Utility, but the FEMA grant was an enormous help. “It was a good project, on schedule, and we were fortunate to get the $1.6 million grant,” said Hall.
Combining grants for more green space
Councilman Terry Ahearn stated that, on checking with County officials, the Towns of Kiawah and Seabrook are able to combine what funds they’ve received for green space and apply them conserving land anywhere within the County; not just on either island. “The County said that they encourage this,” said Ahearn. “So now need to find out if it’s something Kiawah would be interested in.”
What to do with the accommodations taxes
Councilman Ahearn also noted that the Accommodations Tax Committee will be meeting either in the first part of April or first part of May and will be chaired by Mrs. Holtz, who agreed to stay on the Committee for the 2010 year. “The idea would be to get the committee to meet and then advise/give consent to projects to encourage tourism,” said Ahearn. “The whole thing is getting people to come here.”
Weaving a new Town website
The committee formed to create a new Town website has selected three promising companies which they will be deciding between over the next month. The committee, which is comprised of Councilmen Jerry Cummin and Terry Ahearn, as well as John Thompson from the Seabrook POA; Shawna Jarrett, POA Communications Officer; Ken Ingram, Seabrook Club Secretary and Caleb Elledge, Seabrook Club General Manager, has met with each of the companies twice and given them a complete rundown of their expectations. “I think we have made great progress and will be getting estimates in soon,” said Councilman Cummin. “The committee will make a recommendation to Council and we’ll have some kind of meeting with the POA and the Club before making a vote on Council.”
Councilman Ahearn added that a complimentary committee to the website has been formed with the goal of marketing the POA, Club and the Town. “The idea is to kick around ideas about how to make this a friendlier place and market it to outsiders,” said Ahearn. “How to sell the idea of Seabrook Island to someone who might want to come here to visit, rent or buy.”
Disaster plan committee
Councilman Savin noted that the disaster recovery plan is moving along well and copies of the abbreviated plans will be handed out to the island entities shortly. “After we all have a copy, we’ll have a public safety meeting and go over the plan again and entities can choose which people they would like to be their disaster recovery people,” said Savin.
“We’re very on top of the whole disaster recovery issue because this group and three employees would have a lot of work to do in the event of a disaster,” said Mayor Holtz. “It will be difficult and I pray we won’t have to go through it, but I want to be prepared. We have to think about these things because there will always be things we forgot, no matter how thick our binders are. “
Fireworks for Fourth of July
Mayor Holtz was happy to report that, with the approval of Council the Town will have fireworks for the Fourth of July this summer. The Town was able to get the same organization and the same price as last year. Funding for the event will either come out of ATAX or the general fund. Council approved the expenditure unanimously.
Building a better bike path
Town Administrator Randy Pierce stated that he recently found out that funds are available from the County for projects that enhance transportation along corridors with bicycles and pedestrians. Since the Town was already considering improving the sidewalk along the Bohicket Marina side of Seabrook Island road, Piece submitted the details of the work and refurbishment required to fix the walkway, along with photos of the situation and letters of approval from the Town, the Marina and the Marina Village. The total estimated cost of the project is around $113,000. Holtz thanked Pierce for his work and stated that he is all for fixing the curb and stantions no matter what, “but whether we can afford to do the whole thing or not, we’ll have to look into it as it’s substantial. But once we have that new restaurant in there, there will be more traffic to the Marina, so we’ll need something at some point in time.”
Billfish tournament receives permit
Council unanimously approved a permit allowing the Bohicket Yacht Club to host the 2010 Governor’s Billfishing Tournament from May 11 – 15 at the Bohicket Marina.
Ordinance 2010-01: rezoning for green space
The Council unanimously approved the rezoning of lot 7 located at 1802 Landfall Way from multi-family residential to Agricultural-Conservation. The land is .15 acres and its conservation was made possible by the Seabrook Island Green Space Conservancy. A public hearing on the rezoning will be held a few minutes before the next Seabrook Island Town Council meeting, which will take place on Tuesday, April 27 at 2:30 p.m.
Seabrook Island Town Hall is located at 2001 Seabrook Island Road. For more information, call 768-9121 or visit www.townofseabrookisland.com.