Growth is good, unbridled growth is a disaster – The Island Eye News
Wow, I’m writing my penultimate message from the mayor here. I would like to say that the time has passed, but over the past two years it has been quite slow, and thanks to social media, added to the problems posed by the rampant growth around the three counties for both the SCDOT and its committee. President, the past two years have been difficult. However, I would not have traded this opportunity to serve my community for anything.
In fact, by the time this document goes to print, we will have had our election and will have a new mayor and four new council members. Hopefully they will continue to work to unite our community, to overturn Senate Bill 40, and to reverse the disaster of removing the emergency lane on the IOP connector. I send positive thoughts to those who are elected and thank you to those who showed up. Let me focus on my statements above. Mount Pleasant was the state’s fastest growing city on its own, nearly doubling in size every decade. From the 2010 to 2019 census it went from 67,843 to 91,684. Now add the growth of Charleston County according to the 2020 census of 416,590, 234,632 in Berkeley County and 164,900 in Dorchester County and you can see that we now have a metropolis of over 800,000 and will reach a million in just a few years. The 9,000 acre development on Hwy 41 called Cainhoy Plantation will easily take us over one million, not to mention growth in the Nexton with 10,000 homes and apartments. Please don’t take me wrong; growth is good, but unbridled growth without adequate infrastructure is a disaster. Watch the traffic jams on our highways all around the three counties. Plus, there are always the beaches that everyone uses in their advertising campaigns, “beaches are only 15 miles or less”. Well, our beaches are not growing, and at high tide, they are overwhelmed. The same is happening across the country; national parks are now forced to limit the number of visitors who can enter, otherwise we lose the experience of these natural parks. We have 4.5 miles of accessible beach parking on Palms Island, 3 miles on Sullivan’s Island and maybe 5 miles on Folly Beach; it is only 12.5 miles of beach.
And yes, you can drive to Edisto, but it’s a bit by car. While I cannot directly cite statistics for the other islands, Palm Island has 56 beach accesses, four disabled beach paths, 4.5 acres of parking in our public land which we purchased in 1987 for the parking. It was such an incredible forward thinking. But we also have beach front restrooms, outdoor showers, and a great boardwalk to the beach for this parking lot. According to the Beachfront Management Act, we are required to have six parking spaces for every 1/8 mile, which equals 48 spaces per mile (or 4.5 miles times 48 or 216 parking spaces). We exceed the required amount by 800%, not to mention Charleston County’s 9.28-acre waterfront park with parking for 441 cars. Unfortunately, due to the rampant growth in all three counties, there is pressure on the beaches that are not growing. Most people don’t realize that seaside communities are just that, communities that have public beaches between the high tide line and the low tide line. There is not enough for everyone to come at the same time. The same applies to our waterways; they are becoming more and more dangerous with the increasing number of people buying boats with huge engines, but no one has to take a boating safety course, a recipe for disaster. Let’s not forget about social networks. In its early days, it was used to connect people with old friends, view birthdays, anniversaries, and the like. Now it’s all about division, derogatory comments and worse. Most people wouldn’t tell someone to their face on social media. Please watch two shows; one of them was the Netflix special called “The Social Dilemma”. To access the other, you have to go to YouTube to watch the “60 Minutes” segment of Facebook’s whistleblower. If that doesn’t wake you up, then I feel for you. Sadly, social media has become a divisive issue, when we should come together to solve problems, not to create problems. As for the Isle of Palms, I couldn’t be more proud to be a leader in environmental actions. We were the first to sign with the South Carolina Environmental Law Project to tackle offshore drilling and seismic testing. We were the first seaside community to ban plastic bags, and later plastic straws, cups, straws and polystyrene on our beaches. We have banned smoking on the beaches; microplastics were seriously affecting our coastlines and marine life. We just created a citizens’ environmental committee to see what we can do to protect more and take positive action for sea level rise and resilience. I’ll give them $ 2,500 if they work on an irrigation and tree planting project in our ugly public parking lot as a farewell gift to the island. Our last urban event of the year will be the Holiday Street Lighting Festival with rides for the kids, vendors selling their wares just in time for Christmas, shows, food galore and of course, Santa! It will be at Front Beach on December 4th from 2pm to 7pm. Please come and have fun!
Thank you all again, and in the meantime, have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Remember, we always have residents dropping off plates of food for our City employees at the Civil Service Building. Someone will start a list of needed foods; I already promised a 20 pound turkey. Please do not put down the plates that need to be returned as it is too difficult to follow. Cheers!