A vote on whether to support a S.C. General Assembly effort to provide ferry service to Sandy Island residents split County Council along racial lines on Tuesday night.
The General Assembly is considering a bill that would try and get the Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration to take the lead in providing regular ferry service to Sandy Island, which is currently only accessible by boat.
County Council was asked to vote on a resolution in support of the General Assembly’s efforts.
Council Member Bob Anderson said people have been studying the access issue for years, but he supports a bridge instead of a ferry.
Citing the height a bridge would have to be over the Waccamaw River to allow boat traffic underneath,Anderson suggested building one on the north side of the island across from Bucksport.
Council Member Jerry Oakley said supporting the resolution might lead some people to think Council would financially support a ferry.
“I’m not comfortable with that,” he said.
Council Member Lille Jean Johnson said input is needed from island residents to see if they want a bridge.
“This resolution doesn’t hurt anything,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t help. I support it.”
Council Chairman Johnny Morant pointed out twice that there’s no financial obligation, nor leadership role for Council, and reminded his fellow members that island residents are “taxpayers” too.
“If there is anything we can do to assist, we should join the South Carolina General Assembly in petitioning the federal government in taking a leading role,” Morant said.
As it became clear how the vote was going to go, Council Member Leona Myers-Miller did not hide her anger, citing Council’s willingness to help fund a bike path in Murrells Inlet.
“This is just a resolution,” she said. “We all should support a resolution. They are not asking for any funds at this time. We should find funds like we find funds for everything else that goes on at Waccamaw.”
In the end the motion failed, with Anderson, Oakley, Charlton and Austin Beard voting no, and Morant, Myers-Miller and Johnson voting yes.
Transportation to and from the island has been an ongoing issue for years, but returned to the public’s attention after three residents drowned in a boating accident in February 2009.
In other business:
• The county will spend $484,567 to purchase 18 new vehicles for the Sheriff’s Office from Island Chrysler Dodge in Pawleys Island.
The money will be spent on nine marked Dodge Charger sedans, eight marked transport vans and one unmarked transport van.
The county will also spend more than $61,000 for installation of in-car video systems and graphics packages.
• Pro Tek Termite and Pest Control of Georgetown will replace Carolina Exterminators of Pawleys Island as the county’s exterminators and pest control provider.
The county’s service agreement with Carolina Exterminators was found to be “less than adequate” so it was put out to bid again.
A committee put together by County Administrator Sel Hemingway selected Pro Tek over three other companies, including Carolina Exterminators.
The county spends about $16,000 a year on pest control.
• Palmetto Portables will now provide portable toilets for annual and seasonal Parks and Recreation events and other special events.
Palmetto’s bid was $41,165 per year. The county had budgeted $38,000 a year for portable toilet rentals.
• Council renewed a two-year contract with AmeriGas for the purchase of liquid propane gas.
The county spent $60,354 on liquid propane in 2012.
• Murrells Inlet 2020 will no longer be responsible for the maintenance of landscaping at Morse landing Park.
The non-profit entered an agreement with the county in 2009 to pay for, and provide, the maintenance work, but recently requested the termination of the agreement.
• County employees will spend about two hours regrading the privately-owned entrance road to Mansfield Plantation in support of the Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church’s annual Plantation Tours next week.
The cost to the county for labor, fuel and equipment is estimated to be $200.
The tours are an annual event, as is the county’s regrading of the road.
• County Council was asked to help fund expanded Coast RTA service in Pawleys Island.
Suzanne Harris, of the Pawleys Island-Litchfield Transportation Committee, said residents want buses to pick people up on the back roads of Pawleys. Currently buses only travel on Highway 17 and have no recurring stops. If someone wants to board a bus they have to flag one down.
Harris estimated the expansion would cost $141,000, and asked Council to kick in half.
• Six people were reappointed to boards and commission: Sid Hood to the Airport Commission; Miriam Daniels to the Coastal Carolina Advisory Board; Margaret Ann Bromell to the Fire District 1 Board; Lillian Parker to the Historical Commission; Marvin Neal to the Planning Commission; and James Holmes to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
All seven County Council members were in attendance at the meeting.
By Chris Sokoloski
Leave a Response
Notice about comments:
The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending lowering the legal blood alcohol content limit for drivers from .08 percent to .05 percent. They say it will decrease the number of traffic fatalities. Do you agree with this idea?