Mayor Holtz reported on the Town’s budget, noting that revenues are $33,809.85 below budget for the month, but $9,068.04 over for the year-to-date. Expenditures are $3,384.54 less than budgeted, with excess of revenues over expenditures coming in at $37,194.39 less than budgeted for the month, but $6,984.29 over for the year-to-date.
“The year is choppy, but we’re healthy,” said Holtz.
Traffic Negotiations with PGA Continue
Dick Clarke, Chairman of the Seabrook Island Planning Commission, reported on the most recent negotiations with the PGA regarding the Freshfields parking access point to be established off of Seabrook Island Road.
“The only thing I can liken their proposals to is a kaleidoscope – every time you look, it’s something different,” said Clarke.
Clarke noted that the PGA has given the Planning Commission four separate proposals, with the last one showing two access points off Seabrook Island Road with shallow left hand turns into the Freshfields parking lot. While the Planning Commission had assumed that these would both be entrance points, as per earlier discussions, it was discovered during another PGA meeting regarding security and parking that one of the access points would be two ways. Clarke pointed out that the last proposal did show arrows indicating a two-way street, but a recent check of the PGA traffic map posted on the Kiawah Island website did not indicate the second access as two-way.
“Quite frankly, I don’t know what to think,” said Clarke.
He did report that the PGA agreed to up their commitment to post-PGA repairs to $20,000. While the Town had originally asked for $40,000, Kiawah Island Golf Resort President Roger Warren stated that the Golf Resort would also stand liable for up to $20,000 for five years regarding the two oak trees that will stand on either side of the temporary parking entrances.
“My real problem is documentation,” said Mayor Holtz. “We need something in handwriting.”
As it stands, Holtz said the agreement is currently in three parts: The PGA’s agreement to return the side of Seabrook Island Road to its original condition following the event, the $20,000 to be held in lieu of potential additional repairs, and the Golf Resort’s promise to be held liable for up to $20,000 in repairs to the oak trees up to five years following the event.
“There will be no cut unless something is in writing,” said Holtz.
The Town hoped to have agreements in writing from the PGA and from the Golf Resort before the next meeting of the Planning Commission on May 2.
Town Visibility, Advertising, and the Bohicket Marina Run
Councilmember Terrence Ahearn reported that the brochure for the Town to be distributed during the PGA and afterward is currently under review, and the Visibility Committee is considering purchasing some small giveaways, such as golf ball pens, to be handed out during the event.
Regarding a suggestion from the last Council meeting to bring writers to the island, Ahearn was happy to report that a group of Canadian writers will be arriving on Seabrook on May 14 courtesy of the Charleston Visitor’s Bureau. While the bureau is covering the costs of room and board, transportation, and food, Ahearn suggested that the Town offer to take them around on a tour, as well. The writers consist of representatives from Fairways magazine, SCOREGolf, Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, and a freelance writer who works for several Canadian publications.
Upcoming advertising of Seabrook Island, Ahearn reported, will appear in print in Discover Charleston in May, in the Southern Living – South edition in June, and in the Southern Living – Midwest edition in July. Ahearn also suggested offering a sweepstakes through the internet for the PGA, but Mayor Holtz noted that the Club is currently offering a sweepstakes and it would require too much organization in a short period of time.
Next, Ahearn asked about potential signage during the PGA. While the Town does have a small sign that reads “Town of Seabrook Island – Welcome,” he suggested that the town look into a larger, more inviting sign, either temporary or permanent. He also suggested flagpole banners to line the parkway, but the Council discouraged it.
“The purists on the island wouldn’t want to junk up the parkway. Even though people own the land on either side so one day it will be developed, people would like to keep it green as long as possible,” said Holtz. “I would like a welcome sign on Seabrook, but we don’t want to jump down their throats.”
The Council did agree, however, that they should look into a larger sign that will be easier for visitors to see.
Lastly, Ahearn reported that the Bohicket Marina Run sponsors are requesting that the Town issue their permit earlier than the first of the year, possibly up to a year in advance, so that they can begin advertising sooner. Ahearn stated that the sponsors felt that they didn’t get a very large turnout this year because of late advertising, and they didn’t want to advertise if they weren’t sure about the location.
Town Administrator Randy Pierce, however, stated that he doesn’t like to give permits earlier than the first of the year as some safety issues might come up that he would need to hold them accountable for repairing before allowing an event. For example, the washouts near the boardwalk need to be repaired before the first billfishing tournament this year, and this contingency was included in their permit.
“As the Zoning Administrator, that’s what I look at. I just don’t know, a year out in advance, enough in order to give them a permit,” said Pierce.
Mayor Holtz noted that he’s never pulled a permit, and agreed with Pierce regarding the permitting timeline. “We’ll give it to them at the end of the year, but we’ve never turned one [permit] down. They should run the race, we should support the race, but the permit is not the reason people didn’t show up for the race.”
HAM radios for Town Hall
Councilmember Jerry Cummin requested that, with the approach of the Town’s disaster emergency exercise with Charleston County on June 6, that the Town set up a ham radio system in Town Hall.
The system would allow the Town to make contact with the different entities on the island, such as the Club and Camp St. Christopher, as well as with the St. Johns Fire Department and the hospitals downtown in case the cell towers are knocked out following a hurricane or similar disaster.
Cummin suggested that the radio system could be set up either on the second floor of the Town Hall or in the Council chambers – either way, a coaxial cable would need to be run from an antenna installed on the roof to the room where the ham radio would be set up. The radio would also easily run off of the generator which the Town installed last year as part of the Town’s disaster preparation plans.
In total, Cummin and CERT member Max Willis, who consulted on the ham radio system for the Town and was in attendance at the meeting, estimate that the cost for parts and installation should run no more than $3,000.
Cummin proposed that the amount be taken out of the Town’s general fund, and the Council approved the expenditure unanimously.
Raising the Flag at the Freshfields Roundabout
Councilmember Ronald Cianco reported that an effort is being made to install a 40 foot flagpole at the Freshfields roundabout by Russell Crane of the Kiawah Island Community Association and John Feldman of the Seabrook Island Club. The cost of the installation and lighting is just under $6000 and they currently have commitments from the Kiawah-Seabrook Exchange Club, the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, the Kiawah Island Community Association, and informally from the Seabrook Island Property Owners Association.
“One thousand from the Town of Seabrook would complete the funding,” said Ciancio.
Only the American flag will be flown on the pole, except for the possibility of the PGA flag, but Ciancio assured the Council that, if another flag is requested to fly with the American flag, it would only go up with the permission of both the mayors of Kiawah and Seabrook islands.
Council approved the $1000 for the flag pole unanimously.
Funding the Kiawah-Seabrook Disaster Awareness Day
Councilmember Cianco also requested that the Town contribute $1500 toward the Kiawah-Seabrook Disaster Awareness Day, to be held on June 7 from 10 to 3 p.m. at the Kiawah Island Sandcastle Community Center. The amount would go toward food, rental costs, promotional items, and emergency preparedness giveaways.
The Council approved the expenditure unanimously.
Forming a Public Safety Committee
Ciancio also asked that the Town consider forming a Public Safety committee. While the Town does have a Disaster Recovery Team, Ciancio stated that the committee would not take away from that team, but would rather flesh out the Town’s emergency procedures and ordinances. He noted that the Town ordinances already allow for this committee, and it would consist of no more than five or six people.
“It would be a small working group that would look at things, for example, about how to issue business licenses following a hurricane, and creating a list of pre-approved vendors on the island that residents could call,” said Ciancio.
He noted again that this is not a proposal, but he wanted to make the Council aware of his thinking as he would be coming back to the Council with a proposal in the next month or so.
Also regarding disaster recovery, Cianco stated that the Disaster Recovery Team is looking into several tools to help inform residents about the status of the Town before, during, and following a hurricane. Ideas include a remotely-updated 800 number that resident can call, and a Twitter account informing residents when the phone number and website are updated with new information.
Planning the 25th Anniversary Celebration
Lastly, Ciancio reported that, while they do not have a contract with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra yet, they are getting close. Due to some issues concerning temperature in October, they agreed to move the performance up to 4 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. However, the Orchestra was concerned about direct sunlight in the performers’ eyes, so the performance location was adjusted. The Orchestra approved of the location, but due to its location on a slight slope, an additional $1500 will be needed to create a flat performance area.
“This should be okay with the current budget, but I wanted you to know that was an issue,” said Ciancio.
Additionally, the Club will need to make capital improvements to the Lake House to allow for the electrical outlets the Orchestra will require. The improvements will cost between $7,000 and $10,000, and though the Club asked about the Town kicking in on the costs, the town agreed that since it’s a capital improvement – expenses which the Club has planned for – the Town didn’t need to contribute to that cost, as well. However, Ciancio did note that the Town needs to put down a $300 deposit for the Lake House, “which is well within the contingency of the approved budget and will be refunded if it’s not used,” said Ciancio.
Voting Locations and Road Improvements
Town Administrator Pierce reported that, assuming the State doesn’t do away with certain legislation, the next elections on the island will be held on May 29 for the special primary regarding District 41, Glen McConnell’s old district. Instead of the voting being held in Town Hall, however, the Charleston County Election Commission is planning on using the Lake House.
Holtz noted that some concern has been expressed over this move, but since this election will be a relatively small one, the Town will watch the process carefully and make sure that access through the gate does not become an issue.
“One person can do a lot of damage with this. Even though we mean well because it’s a bigger building, we’re still investigating using it,” said the Mayor.
Lastly, Pierce noted that the work on the Parkway during the week of April 23 was to repair the water-collecting dip in the sidewalk and a noticeable bump in the road. The contractors, Truluck Construction, milled out a whole section of the parkway and path, graded it, and replaced the asphalt at acceptable heights to prevent water accumulation.
Utility Commission Report
No one from the Utility Commission was present to make a report to the Council, but Mayor Holtz read a note from them stating that financials and operations are looking good, and usage has been higher than usual due to warmer recent temperatures. Some pump failures have required replacement and lastly, the wastewater treatment project is on schedule.
“Shortest Utility report we’ve ever had,” Holtz said jokingly.
The next Seabrook Town Council meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 22, at Seabrook Town Hall, located at 2001 Seabrook Island Road.
For more information on Seabrook Town Council, please visit http://townofseabrookisland.org/town-administration.