I sat down with Guy Gimson and Steve Hirsch recently to get some questions answered about the new Gatehouse going up at the entrance to Seabrook. Guy chairs the General Maintenance and Operating Committee on the SIPOA board and Steve is the Director of Engineering for SIPOA.
I had some questions I wanted to ask and they had answers for all of them.
I wondered why we chose to do the gate now instead of an earlier or later date. One of the driving reasons for this was the current building is apparently in pretty bad shape. It had taken on a foot of water during our floods of 2015, the roof is in need of repair and the internal space no longer fits the needs of the various officers and their roles in staffing the gate. There was also a desire to have the Gatehouse done in the same style as the two latest buildings in Seabrook, i.e., the Lake House and the Club. To accomplish this end, SIPOA hired the same architect as had designed the other two buildings, a company they have had a good working relationship with for some time. Also, since the Planning Committee had noted the need for this update in their models, SIPOA was able to come up with the necessary funds to complete the project, having just paid down a large share of the debt from the Lake House. Obviously, the arrangement they chose allowed them to keep the current gate running while the new one was under construction. The initial bids that came in were not in line with what SIPOA wanted to pay and therefore required work and study to bring them down. Guy noted that construction costs are increasing in the Lowcountry and they wanted to “bite the bullet” now before prices went up even higher.
As to why they chose the location they did, there really wasn’t much room to move it any further without causing dislocation of various properties adjacent to the gate. They decided to move it further inside Seabrook for two reasons: 1) they wanted to move it to a higher elevation to avoid the floods they had experienced in the current building and 2) they wanted to make more space for vehicles waiting outside the gate. The line for renters sometimes stretches all the way back to the Town Hall. They wanted the gate to precede the entrance to the Equestrian Center so the designated area was pretty well defined by the space that was left.
Another real problem they were facing was Saturday check-in times for summer rentals. There was no possibility of adding a third access lane, so instead they changed the procedures by which the renters can sign in. All major property rental organizations have been contacted and have agreed to include in all rental package information sign-in so renters need no longer go to the real estate office to get their sign-in material. This should speed things along during the busiest months of the year. Also, in order to cut down on the number of people going in through the rental line, they issued barcodes to all employees of the Club, some 120 people. This in itself has improved access to the rental line. Steve told me there are some 15 or 16 categories of types of people coming through the gate, like Club guests, Club employees, property owners, golfers and wedding attendees, to name just a few.
So what will we see when the new gate is up and running? First, there will be a 30-day transfer period when the new gatehouse will be getting furnished and computerized. During that period, the old gate will stay in operation. They expect the changeover to take place from mid-March through mid-April. There will be only one lane exiting Seabrook, but it will be a wider lane. As to the entrance to Seabrook, we will have a beautiful piece of property and landscaping to look at, one much more in keeping with the style of Seabrook buildings. We will have the same two incoming lanes for renters and owners.
When I do stories such as this one, I am often struck by how much effort Seabrook residents and employees put into helping us run Seabrook and maintain it as the lovely place we have come to enjoy so much. We can do a lot of fussing about what the SIPOA board and its employees may or may not do for us. When you look at a project like this, you have to thank both Guy and Steve, and the rest of the team, for the enormous amount of work they put into this project. We are all the better for their time and attention.
-Barbara Burgess, Tidelines Staff Writer