Before the Council meeting, the Seabrook Town Council took a few minutes to practice using the Town Hall defibrillator so that they could be familiar with the device in case of an emergency. Defibrillators are located in facilities throughout the island, as well as with the island beach patrol.
Councilmember Jerry Cummin was not present for the meeting, but attended via speaker phone.
Financials: looking up!
Last month the financial numbers were somewhat skewed due to the flow of checks, and Mayor Bill Holtz noted this again as he read through the financial statement for February: revenues are $64,727.86 above budget and expenditures are $2,766.38 less than budgeted. Excess of revenues over expenditures is $61,961.48, and year-to-date excess of revenues over expenditures is $97,284.35, which is better than last year-to-date by $36,277.68.
Councilmember Ronald Ciancio asked about the increased business license activity with class 7 business licenses (rentals, architects, surveyors, etc.) and Mayor Holtz said it was probably a combination of increased building on the island and rentals. The town is working to make sure that anyone renting their property – either through an agency or as an individual – is paying the proper business license fee. If properties are being rented without a license, the Town sends the owners a letter. “It’s not an expensive license, but people should do it to stay legal,” said the Mayor.
Government relations: slow going with Johns Island infrastructure
Councilmember Sam Reed stated that he did not have much to report regarding progress with the proposed Greenway and I-526, but efforts, he said, are being made to encourage action on both and to keep them in front of the County Council.
“I’m pleased with the Chamber of Commerce coming out with a report about the need for the Greenway and 526, and about planning for the flow of commerce throughout the region,” said Reed, referencing the Chamber of Commerce’s recent Infrastructure Vision Task Force report.
Community relations: PGA literature, interactive kiosks, and warning sirens for golfers
Councilmember Terry Ahearn announced that the Community Relations committee has committed approximately $69,000 of their $100,000 to advertising Seabrook Island in several types of media, including popular golfing websites and Southern Living magazine. The committee, he noted, is currently discussing whether to offer a website sweepstakes to attract viewers to the town website, or to hold a weekend familiarization trip for travel writers from several popular magazines.
Mayor Holtz stated that he preferred the writers, as it could potentially involve a lot of work to maintain the website sweepstakes. “I’m flexible, though, and the Council is, too,” he said.
Ahearn said that they are also looking into potentially advertising in Canada, as well.
Regarding the Visibility committee, Ahearn stated that they are finalizing plans to provide literature about the town to the Seabrook Island Club and Seabrook Island Real Estate, both of which will be sharing a tent during the upcoming PGA event. The literature will have the town’s website and a phone number which will go to the town’s reception center, located within the Seabrook Island Real Estate building.
The committee is also working on the new kiosks at Bohicket Marina, and while the town has agreed to pay for two kiosks – one in the marina breezeway and the other near the boat docks – Ahearn noted that the Charleston Visitors Bureau is looking into the possibility of using new, interactive kiosks called CHARLES.
“The question is, can we use CHARLES in place of those kiosks and maybe get them for nothing if the Charleston Visitors Bureau is willing?” said Ahearn. It’s a little more sophisticated than what the Town was planning, said Ahearn, and since the CHARLES kiosks cannot be overly exposed to the elements, there is a chance they could use the kiosks within the town for residents and guests, instead.
Ahearn hopes to meet with the creator of CHARLES, Warren Lash, soon as he lives in Cassique. In the meantime, the Town is still planning to install the two traditional kiosks at Bohicket Marina.
Lastly, during the Seabrook Island Club board meeting, the board discussed the possibility of installing warning sirens in order to warn golfers of potentially hazardous weather.
“There was some discussion that this was talked about three or four years ago, and the general consensus was that the town implemented Code Red and everything else fell by the wayside,” said Ahearn. The problem is, though, that most golfers do not take their phones onto the course and if they do, they have them on silent as per Club rules. The Town Code Red system utilizes phone calls and texting to warn residents of impending hazardous weather, but it wouldn’t be able to reach phoneless golfers.
“Code Red was our answer, because sirens don’t tell you what the problem is,” said Mayor Holtz. “To golfers, though, a sire makes sense in order to get them off the course. If the Club wants to put in a siren, they can use Code Red to warn them.”
Councilmember Ciancio pointed out that there are alert systems that rely on atmospheric conditions and would go off automatically in case of an impending weather threat. However, the Council decided that this is a matter best left to the Club and Property Owners Association to decide what to do regarding a golfer weather warning system.
Communications: first quarter activity on the Town website
Though unable to attend the meeting, Councilmember Jerry Cummin gave his report via speaker phone to the Council, noting that the Communications committee is planning to give a report regarding the Town website’s first quarter activity during the April 24 council meeting. The mayor asked if the representative for their marketing company, Obviouslee Marketing, could arrive earlier to discuss the details of the website’s activity, and Cummin said he would look into setting it up.
Public safety: county-wide disaster drill and planning the 25th anniversary celebration
Councilmember Ciancio reported that he will be meeting with a representative from Charleston County to coordinate the upcoming June 6 disaster preparedness exercise. The Town of Seabrook Island hopes to coordinate their exercise with the county’s for a more reality-based drill.
Regarding the Town’s upcoming 25th anniversary celebration, Ciancio presented the Town with a rough draft of the party budget, noting an increase in the cost of the full Charleston Symphony Orchestra (CSO) of approximately $2,000. The additional cost would be for the inclusion of heaters, as per the CSO contract, a certain number of heaters would need to be provided should the temperatures drop below a certain level.
“But temperatures might be low enough that we would need so many heaters that it would block the sight line for attendees, or the orchestra might not be able to see the conductor. So either we pay a premium to orchestra members to waive the provision about heaters, or move the date up from late October to either September 22 or 29,” said Ciancio. He suggested that the Town keep the October date unless they are unable to negotiate regarding the heaters. Besides that, all of the numbers were pretty much set, apart from firming up the cost of flowers and decorations.
Ciancio moved that the Town set two separate budgets – one for the basic party at $25,000, and one for the Charleston Symphony Orchestra at $30,000. “I’m highly confident these numbers will not be exceeded and will give us room in case of an emergency,” said Ciancio.
Council approved the two anniversary celebration budgets unanimously.
Mayor’s report: Captain Sam’s re-cut delayed
Mayor Holtz briefly announced that the re-cutting of Captain Sam’s Inlet has been delayed due to a legal objection by an island resident. The cut, he said, will probably be delayed until next year.
Town administrator’s report: Kiawah/Seabrook Disaster Awareness Day
Town Administrator Randy Pierce stated that the Town of Kiawah Island is once again requesting that the Town of Seabrook Island contribute $1500 toward this year’s inter-island Disaster Awareness Day. Although the councilmembers generally approved of the expenditure, Councilmember Ciancio asked if the vote for the expenditure could be delayed until the next meeting so he could read up on the use of the contributed funds. “I just need to understand it,” he noted.
Pierce also noted that they are in the process of replacing beachside signs regarding dogs on the beach that have washed away.
Planning Commission: let my people (come and) go
Planning Commission Chairman Richard Clarke stated that they are still waiting for a response from the PGA regarding some changes to a lease agreement regarding approximately 50 feet of Seabrook Island Road which would be used as an access point to allow people to park in the back parking lot of Freshfields.
The Town is requesting two revisions to the contract, one regarding the amount set aside for damages (the PGA offered $10,000 in cash that the town would give back if not used, and the town is requesting instead that the PGA put up a $40,000 bond) and the other regarding language that states that disputes currently will be adjudicated in Florida. The Town is requesting that the location be moved to Charleston, and that an arbitration clause be added so that court may be avoided if possible.
A meeting was set with a PGA representative, but the person never showed up. “So all I can tell you is that the Planning Commission has no energy to sign this with coverage of just $10,000,” said Clarke, noting that their alternative is to create both an entrance and exit off of the Kiawah Island Parkway. “If they choose to do this, it will cause me no heartburn,” he said.
However, Administrator Pierce stated that the PGA representative is planning to attend the Planning Commission meeting during the first Wednesday in April. He also noted that the PGA does have a full plan for traffic and emergency preparedness. In fact, the road from Highway 17 to the roundabout will be controlled by the Sheriff’s Department, which will also be controlling the traffic lights for ease of traffic flow on and off the island.
Fire Department: April is Hydrant Month
Battalion Chief Gary Lohr attended the Council meeting to remind the Council and the Town that the Fire Department will be checking hydrants during the month of April. “We haven’t had any problems, but in the past, we’ve had some people washing something in the middle of the day and the water turns brown,” said Lohr. To avoid this, the Fire Department will be notifying the water company of hydrant testing dates so that island residents will be aware.
The Seabrook Island Council meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month at 2:30 p.m. at Seabrook Island Town Hall, located at 2001 Seabrook Island Road. The next council meeting will be held on April 24. For more info, visit www.townofseabrookisland.com.