Port Royal staff, council look to move number of projects forward in 2014

emoody@beaufortgazette.comMarch 15, 2014 

  • Other topics discussed Saturday included:

    • Vehicle purchases for the police, public works and fire departments, including the 75-foot ladder truck the Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Department is buying.
    • Proposed department budgets.
    • Funding for a director of housing development position in partnership with the city of Beaufort and the Lowcountry Housing Trust.
    • Revival of the U.S. Junior Chamber's Lowcountry Jaycees chapter.
    • Software and technology upgrades.
    • Security features and cameras for Town Hall.
    • Town comprehensive plan update.

Port Royal Town Council and staff spent five hours Saturday discussing in depth a variety of projects -- ongoing, upcoming and potential -- to tackle in 2014 and beyond.

While some of the topics, such as working with the newly re-established U.S. Junior Chamber chapter of the Lowcountry Jaycees, don't come with a price tag, many do.

The capital improvements project list alone totaled $10.4 million, and town engineer Tony Maglione said estimates will probably go up another 20 percent.

With those costs fresh on their minds, council members voted unanimously to reaffirm a resolution supporting the addition of a local option sales tax to the fall referendum.

While 70 percent of the money collected by the 1 percent tax would go toward property tax relief for residents, the other 30 percent could go to the town's general fund.

"You can use local option sales tax for basically whatever you want," town manager Van Willis told council in the meeting.

About 7.5 miles of town roads could use resurfacing; at a cost of $20,000 per block, that would total about $2 million. The town has been paving blocks at a time as money becomes available.

A road through the Port of Port Royal property from Ribaut Road to Paris Avenue would cost an estimated $5 million; intersection improvements, signals and street connections total $2.3 million; and park, sidewalk and waterfront promenade projects total $1.1 million.

"The impact these projects could have is tremendous," Willis said.

Dean Moss and Dick Stewart, of the Santa Elena Foundation, asked for town support of their goal to open a museum and interactive center on the Port of Port Royal property, despite the S.C. State Ports Authority's recent refusal to sell.

Legislation is being considered in Columbia that would push the authority to sell, or the land would be auctioned. The port has been unused since 2004.

Moss suggested that Port Royal could buy the property. Willis said the town is looking into the idea.

"I think a deal can be structured so the town doesn't have to put up any money," Moss said.

Council and staff members are troubled by the derelict and non-working boats down at or near the town-managed shrimp docks. That includes one on a sandbar, two on the shore and one at the bottom of Battery Creek.

"We're being the graveyard for all these boats, and what it's doing is destroying our waterfront," Councilwoman Mary Beth Gray Heyward said.

Working -- but not moving -- boats at the docks is another issue. Willis said ones that aren't being paid on likely will get the boot soon. However, dock operator Joey Morris will need the legal backing of the town to do that.

"We have a bunch of derelict shrimpers, to be blunt," Willis said.

The seafood market is expected to open in April or May.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

Related content:

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service