Goat Island provides opportunity for Georgetown harbor, sailboats
Goat Island could be a good buffer to minimize the visual effects of commercial operations located to the south, and a place for sailboating and other recreational possibilities.
This was emphasized a number to times by professional planners, residents, local officials and downtown business owners who had a chance to express what should or should not happen to Goat Island — the roughly 30-acre island in the Sampit River between Front Street and East Bay Park.
SGA Architecture president Steve Goggans, AIA, LEED AP, represented the design firm selected to develop the plan for the island and led the public hearing Tuesday at Georgetown City Hall. He was introduced by City Administrator Chris Carter who also spoke during the hearing, especially during the discussion period following a presentation by Goggans and a review of two large conceptual maps and a four-color drawing made by Clemson University students who studied the area several years ago.
Goggans said he recently met with property owner Jerry Blackmon of Charlotte, N.C., who has said he may donate 20 of the 30 acres if he likes what will be done with the island. Goggans said he had not seen Blackmon for more than 20 years.
The SGA president said the 20 acres or so to be donated is estimated to be worth between $600,000 and $800,000, and such a plan should be a positive for the city and the land owner, who has asked for assurances the municipality will not seek commercial development of the acreage, such as condos, which he seems not interested in having on Goat Island. The property does not have water, sewer or electricity, so such development would be costly.
Mayor Jack Scoville and several city council members were in the audience. Following the meeting, he was asked by the Georgetown Times to sum up some of the top considerations: 1. Use — Should we use the island for low or high impact recreation? 2. Cost — How much can we afford to invest? 3. Access — How will we access the island?
Obviously. all three are interconnected, the Mayor said. “Low impact means lower cost and less convenient access,” he said. “High impact means more cost and necessitates more convenient access.”
“I favor leaving the island as natural as possible with some nature trails, a couple of observation decks, a small boat dock or two, and other limited improvements,” Mayor Scoville said. “This keeps the upfront costs down, reduces long term maintenance, and preserves the uniqueness of the island.” Opportunities suggested by SGA Architecture of Pawleys Island and Charleston include:
• Excellent views of Goat Island from downtown waterfront district.
• Excellent views of downtown waterfront district from Goat Island.
• Highland areas consist of pine and hardwood trees with opportunities for picnicking, bird watching, camping and nature walks.
• Promote growth of canopy trees to screen steel mill and port.
• Potential for boardwalk connection between two islands.
• Boating access from public boat landings and river systems — South Carolina water trails.
• Potential kayak rentals and launching area.
Constraints suggested by SGA Architecture include:
• Anchored boats in channel impede flow of boat traffic.
• Undesirable views to steel mill and port from Goat Island and downtown district.
• Abandoned vessels tied to Goat Island shoreline provide undesirable views from downtown waterfront district.
• Much of island is classified as wetlands.
• Difficult to bridge, limiting access.
• Difficult to provide services and utilities.
It was pointed out that soils maps show five acres are wetlands and five acres could have walking trails, nature watch platforms and picnic areas.
Wooden Boat Show coming
Johnny Weaver, Wooden Boat Show dock master and local real estate agent, said he also recently met with property owner Blackmon in Georgetown. Weaver said he has known Blackmon for a number of years and agreed when someone in the room called Mr. Blackmon a “visionary” when it comes to development of a town. Blackmon owns waterfront property here and seemed to be very interested in seeing the historic city grow and attract tourism and commerce. Weaver said Blackmon's interest went beyond the normal desires of a property owner. “He seemed to truly want to see something special to this community which he feels is unique.”
Weaver said he told Blackmon and his assistant about the prospects of having sailing ships in the bay. At a recent Tuesday luncheon of Georgetown Rotarians, Weaver had noteworthy points he wanted to emphasize about the 24th Annual Wooden Boat Show (WBS).
One, he emphasized the Junior Sailing instruction and the new advanced sailing program offered by the organization. “This all took off much faster than we figured,” Weaver said. “There is a waiting list of youngsters hoping to participate in 2014. A total of 78 young sailors received training this year.”
Two, he wanted everyone to remember the Harbor Historical Association of Georgetown event always falls on the third Saturday of October — this year from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 19.
Three, he reminded folks about the Goat Island Yacht Club Regatta at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18, at the South Carolina Maritime Museum (SCMM) at 729 Front St. The entrance fee is $85, includes a buffet and open bar. A live auction and a silent auction are planned with prizes including such favorites as hunting trips, condo weeks, meals, posters, prints and a fishing trip. Proceeds from this opportunity to meet with and trade sea stories with fellow seafarers will benefit the Museum.
Weaver showed Rotarians samples of the 24th Annual Boat Show posters and commemorative T-shirts to Rotary members, Tuesday, Sept. 3, at the Lands End Restaurant. Both the posters and shirts have a painting of a 1905 pilot boat in Georgetown by local artist Susan Tiller, who will be on hand Oct. 19 to sign posters.
Weaver said the WBS is “right around the corner.” This year's show will feature “one of the nation's best wooden boat exhibits,” a wooden boatbuilding competition, children's model boatbuilding, knot tying, maritime art and crafts, food and music.
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