Mayor Holtz called the meeting to order and approved the minutes from January 22, 2013.
Mayor Holtz reported that business licenses and checks are continuing to come in, so it is hard to determine the budget the first few months of the new year. “I can’t complain,” he said. “The objective is to spend our money wisely.” Holtz said that there would not be much to discuss until a better financial base is developed. He congratulated the Council for building up the emergency fund to $1,004,000.
Nick Strehle of Sunburst Landscaping addressed Council regarding several landscaping issues on the island that the Mayor wanted him to look at, specifically in regards to flooding during high tide and heavy rains. Strehle said that in order to alleviate flooding, he plans to install flapper valves onto existing drainage pipes around Seabrook and Bohicket that would allow water to flow outward, but not inward. Mayor Holtz asked if this would prevent the giant puddles from forming on the roads, and Strehle said that it would help, specifically in regards to overall safety. “Normally we don’t have this type of flooding,” Strehle said. “This February we had the second highest rainfall on record.”
Holtz made a motion to approve $29,270 needed to address drainage and landscaping issues. Councilman Ciancio suggested adding additional contingency funds. Council unanimously approved moving $45,000 from the general fund into the landscaping fund to address additional landscaping issues outside of the preexisting contract.
Completion of I-526
Councilman Reed reported that the environmental permits needed to complete I-526 should be secured by mid-2014. A Request for Proposal was sent out for the proposed greenway, but there were no responsive bidders on the project. “I think it’s in limbo at this point,” Reed said.
Johns Island Superstreet
Councilman Reed said that he has received several negative comments regarding the Superstreet at the intersection of Highway 17 and Main Road on Johns Island. Reed said that he hopes representatives from the Department of Transportation will make an effort to present the plans and findings to Council. Charleston County Council approved the $3.5 million project unanimously. Mayor Holtz said that his biggest concern with the project had to do with the evacuation route. “The back up on Johns Island during an emergency is tremendous,” he said. “I don’t see how this could work easily.”
Reed continued to report that things have “settled down” at the St. Johns Fire District. The governor approved the addition of two commissioners from Kiawah, John Olson and Craig Weaver.
Bohicket Merchants Association Request for Funding
Councilman Ahearn said that the Bohicket Merchants Association, being a part of the Town of Seabrook Island, requested funding to support activities like “Kick It at Bohicket” during the summer months. The event includes face painting, jump castles, music, and other family-friendly activities. The BMA is requesting $700 a week for the stretch of the summer, coming up just shy of $10,000. In providing funding for the event, Seabrook will become an official event sponsor. Ahearn expressed concern over potential liabilities that may be incurred from the jump castle. “We’re trying to measure out how effective this will be in the future, if we do approve it. It’s hard to quantify,” he said. Ciancio suggested having BMA come up with a contract, and assuring that they have adequate insurance in place. Ahearn commented that the Town’s communication efforts are in place to make Seabrook Island more known. “It’s not in support of any group, it’s to get people out here to see what we have,” he said. “All of us are going to sell our house at some point, or have it sold by estate. We need people to be interested in buying that house.” Reed said that the Town was walking a fine line, because a lot of the reason people find Seabrook appealing is because it is quiet. Ahearn agreed, and noted that the publicity efforts could be shut down at any point.
Ahearn said that the Branding Initiative is still in the process of coming up with a tagline for the Town, and has hired Obviouslee Marketing to help with their efforts. “It will be quiet the next couple of weeks, and nothing will happen from our end,” he said.
New Hotel at Freshfields Village
Ahearn reported that the new “boutique hotel” in Freshfields Village is scheduled to open in January or February next year. The hotel will be called the “Andell Inn.”
HAM Radio Class
Councilman Cummin reported on the success of the Town sponsored HAM radio training class that took place over the weekend of February 23 – 24. Instruction involved 12 hours of PowerPoint presentations covering over 350 questions. Mayor Holtz dropped by the class to wish the participants “good luck” and thank them for their efforts. Six volunteer examiners conducted testing and 14 out of 15 students passed, garnering a 93 percent success rate. The Town provided coffee and danishes for breakfast, and boxed lunches included none other than ham sandwiches. Seabrook Island now has 26 licensed HAM radio operators. Councilman Ciancio and Town Administrator Pierce both took the class and passed the exam. The cost of the class came in around $1,277, which composed of $781 for food and $440 for manuals. “I am very pleased with the results of all this,” Cummin said. “We have been planning this since 2011.”
Bond Anticipation Notice
Councilman Ciancio says that Council should plan to have a second reading of the bond anticipation ordinance in April, due to the 60-day waiting period required for activation. The Town will work with the McNair Law firm to authorize and prep an ordinance which would authorize anticipation of a bond or bond notes in case of an emergency, with the principal amount at $4 million. “This is not something we would anticipate using,” Ciancio said. “It’s only in the event of an emergency. We are not making a commitment, we are preparing ourselves to make that decision at a later date,” he said. The cost of preparing the ordinance and assisting in the negotiation process is $4,500. Council unanimously approved the motion to engage with McNair Law Firm in prepping and executing an ordinance regarding bond anticipation.
Water and Sewer Commission
Jeff Bostock reported that January financials were within expectations. “Operations are normal…nothing unusual at all,” he said. The treatment project is complete and all new facilities are operating.
The next Seabrook Town Council meeting will be Tuesday, March 26, at 2:30 p.m.