Beaufort Council approves day dock, water sports building proposal

emoody@beaufortgazette.comOctober 23, 2012 

  • talked with S.C. Department of Transportation Commissioner Craig Forrest about working together on a plan to transfer ownership of streets from the state to the city.

  • received a financial report on revenues and expenditures for the first quarter of the fiscal year 2012-13 budget, July 1 to Sept. 30.

  • approved a plan to provide two-hours of free holiday parking downtown from Nov. 23 through Jan. 1.

  • approved amendments to the 2012-13 budget, including increased franchise fees from the Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority and transfers from the general fund to pay for work on Bladen Street.

  • A conceptual plan to expand day dock space and add a water sports center to the Downtown Beaufort Marina drew city council approval Tuesday night.
  • Mayor Billy Keyserling said the city could begin drawing up engineering plans for the day dock as soon as a second state grant is received in 2013. The city has $27,000 from the Department of Natural Resources and expects to receive an additional $35,000.

    Some of money would be used for planning, he said. It would also be used to win federal grants to cover the rest of the $250,000 project.

    The water sports center would be paid for and developed by a private business, council said.

    The vote to add the marina proposal to the city's master plan was 4-1 with Councilman George O'Kelley Jr., voting against it.

    The proposal has three main components:

  • an approximately 250-foot day dock along the west end of the seawall in the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.

  • a water sports and recreation center of 3,000 to 7,000 square feet with space to store paddleboats.

  • a marketing plan to advertise the new facilities.

  • O'Kelley said he approves of the day dock portion of the plan, but not the water sports center. Although he voted in favor of the master plan last year, which included development of the marina, he does not like the idea of a large building in the marina parking lot.

    "We voted for a concept and now this concept is growing wings and feet and a tail and everything," he said.

    Councilman Mike McFee reiterated that the plan is conceptual, and said it was "ludicrous" to think council was approving the construction of a 7,000-square-foot building. All components of the plan will be vetted by multiple levels of planning staff, committees and council before coming to fruition.

    This is the fourth time in two decades council has voted on a day dock expansion and the only plan to pass.

    Councilwoman Donnie Beer voted against it previously and said although it took this long for her to change her mind, she believes it will benefit the community

    Councilman Mike Sutton and Keyserling sided with several residents who said they support the plan because it connects the downtown to the water.

    "I think it is an important step for righting something that was wronged so many years ago in erasing the heritage of our waterfront," Sutton said.

    Resident David Bowie said details about the projects can be worked out later, but the proposal should be passed now.

    "Beaufort is a waterfront community, and a waterfront community without any boats is sterile, and boats are part of the view as far as I'm concerned," he said "I like looking at boats."

    Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeonBeaufort.

    Related content:

    City council gives initial nod to marina development plan, Oct. 09, 2012

    Residents split over day-dock expansion plans, Sept. 25, 2012

    Beaufort day-dock proposal sails through commission, Sept. 17, 2012

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