Highlights from the Town Council Meeting on April 25

Councilman John Gregg reported that the Public Safety Committee has completed its review of the proposed changes to the Town’s Comprehensive Emergency Plan and forwarded its recommendations to the consultant coordinating the work, adding that he expects a full package of plan updates to be returned by the end of May.  He said the next meeting of the Disaster Recovery Council (DRC, which includes representatives from the Town, SIPOA, the Seabrook Island Club, Bohicket Marina, Camp St. Christopher, and St. Johns Fire District) will be on June 6 and 7.  On June 7, the DRC will participate in the Charleston County hurricane exercise designed to focus on pre-landfall activities.

On April 14, the Town received notification that three projects submitted in their FEMA public assistance request have resulted in obligation of funds for “emergency protective measures.”  These projects were arrangements made by the Seabrook Island Utility Commission (SIUC) to acquire bypass pumps and generators.  Since FEMA typically pays up to 75% of the obligated value, the Town expects to receive somewhat less than the $63K that was obligated.  FEMA is still reviewing two additional Town project requests.

Council approved a motion submitted by Mr. Gregg for a 1-year renewal of the current “Stand-By” contract with Phillips & Jordan for debris removal following a disaster.  There will be no cost to the Town unless and until it activates the contract.  Phillips & Jordan’s work under the arrangement would be to collect debris, transfer it to a reduction site, and then transfer it to a disposal site.

Mr. Gregg announced that Disaster Awareness Day, sponsored jointly by the Towns of Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island, will be held (for the second consecutive year) at the Seabrook Island Club on June 15 from 10am to 3:30pm.  In addition to offering informative presentations by local and regional Emergency Management officials, there will be displays by local emergency services providers and vendors of preparedness-response equipment and services.  Mr. Gregg emphasized that the plan for the event includes prize drawings throughout the day and “FREE LUNCH!!

Councilman Jody Turner reported that SC-DNR visited North Beach a few days ago to place flags at bird nesting areas.  DNR seems to think we are controlling dogs well on the beach, but noted how important it is to keep cyclists from interfering with bird activity on the beach.  He added that the Town has received results of a recent study of North Beach by Coastal Science & Engineering (CS&E):  North Beach is accreting in the general area of The Cut, but we have lost some sand and had erosion down the coast.  He said that, based on the report’s recommendation, SIPOA has begun the process of applying for permits to scrape surplus sand from North Beach and move it to the Beach Club area.  Mr. Turner closed by reporting that there had been a successful check of the ham radios that are used for emergency communications.  He suggested that the Town begin to consider acquiring a backup radio system that could be used by all of the local entities involved in emergency planning and response.

Councilman John Wells said that the Accommodations Tax (ATAX) Advisory Committee will review applications for ATAX funds on May 22.

Regarding the Seabrook Island Road engineering project with Robert George Associates, Mr. Wells said that the team is awaiting OCRM’s response on repairing/replacing flapper gates.  He anticipates that a contract for work on the road will be let during the third quarter to address drainage issues and raise the roadbed in certain areas to meet Charleston County requirements.

Mayor Ron Ciancio provided details of a $54,300 contract for beach patrol services with Island Beach Services (IBS).  Upon motion made, seconded and unanimously approved, Council authorized the Mayor to execute the contract with such changes thereto as he deems necessary or appropriate.    IBS will provide employees who are trained in water rescue and have United States Life Saving Association (USLA) open water lifeguard certification, CPR/AED certification, first aid training consistent with USLA guidelines, and Code Enforcement training (the last item being provided by the Town).  From Memorial Day through Labor Day, two IBS staff members will work alternating 8-hour daily shifts (one 10am – 6pm and the other 12pm – 8pm).  One IBS staff member will work in 2018 from Easter through the end of April, 10am – 6pm.  IBS’ services will include rendering assistance, enforcing the Town’s Beach Ordinance, responding to beach goers’ questions, providing activity logs to the Town, and promptly reporting significant events to the Town Administrator and Mayor.  IBS will provide all necessary equipment for performing their responsibilities.  With IBS we will not face some problems that arose in recent years.  Sometimes the the off-duty county officers of our beach patrol were called to active duty by the County, the officers were not trained for water rescue, and the officers could not be empowered to write citations for violation of the Beach Ordinance.  The IBS staff will wear uniforms bearing the Town’s logo.  As trained Town Code Enforcement Officers ,they will be empowered to issue citations consistent with Town policy, only if necessary.  Mayor Ciancio stressed that IBS’ code enforcement training will emphasize that Seabrook is a tourist and family vacation destination, making it important to be friendly and welcoming.

Mayor Ciancio reported that the Town of Hilton Head Island (ToHHI) had received FEMA reimbursement for clearing some of their private roads.  (This situation would be analogous to our Town clearing behind the Gatehouse on SIPOA property.)  The Hilton Head reimbursement contrasts with the experience of a number of other communities affected by Hurricane Matthew, including Kiawah.  The Mayor spoke with ToHHI’s chief engineer and has set up a meeting with ToHHI’s engineering and legal departments in an effort  to learn  why ToHHI has been successful in its FEMA request when other similarly situated communities have not been.

Utilities Commissioner Jim Bannwart reported that SIUC’s March operations were well within requirements.  January-February cash flow is positive, due in part to the sewage rate increase and to low expenses during the period.  SIUC will return to a regular billing schedule in May.

Official minutes of this meeting will be approved at the next Town Council meeting (May 23) and published on the Town’s web site shortly thereafter.

-Submitted by Tidelines Staff


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