Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Eight companies have expressed interest in creating plans for possible uses for Goat Island — if the owner donates the majority of the Island to the city.
Jerry Blackmon of Charlotte, the owner of the roughly 30-acre land mass in the Sampit River between Front Street and East Bay Park — as reported previously — is considering donating about 20 acres to the City of Georgetown.
The donation, City Administrator Chris Carter said, will only take place if Blackmon likes the plans that are created for the property.
Carter says $20,000 has been allocated to pay for a plan for the property that will be presented to the owner.
“We have received eight proposals from land planners,” Carter said in an update to City Council last week.
Mayor Jack Scoville said a developed island “would be a jewel for the city,” adding Blackmon wants a “detailed, quality plan.”
As part of the plan, the city would make sure the abandoned boats that are on and around the island are removed.
Scoville said the city has permission to remove abandoned boats from the island even though no part of the island is currently owned by the city.
Carter said a boat is considered to be abandoned if there has been no activity on the vessel for 45 days.
Councilwoman Jeanette Ard said she does not know why the city wants to spend public funds cleaning up Goat Island which is private property.
“We have not discussed this with a maritime attorney,” Ard said.
Scoville said “it is worth spending $20,000 to possibly get a plan that can be presented to Mr. Blackmon.”
“You have got to take risks sometime,” Scoville added.
Councilman Paige Sawyer said the city needs to do what it can to clean up the abandoned boats and try to secure ownership of the portion of Goat Island that Blackmon is willing to donate.
“This is a good opportunity to improve the waterfront,” Sawyer said. “If we pass up this opportunity, we should kick ourselves in the posterior for doing so.”
Scoville said he envisions things such as walking trails, nature watch platforms and picnic areas on the island.
“Maybe we could put some goats over there,” he joked.
Councilwoman Peggy Wayne asked how people without boats will be able to get to enjoy the island.
“How can I get from the Harborwalk to Goat Island,” she asked.
“If you want to get to Goat Island, you will have to get a boat,” Sawyer responded.
“No. My tax dollars are paying for this too,” Wayne replied. She later added she is in favor of doing something with the island.
As for the abandoned boats, Carter said the big concern is the boats being blown around – and possibly onshore — during severe storms or hurricanes.
He said after 45 days of inactivity on the vessels, the city has the right to remove them — or anyone from the public can legally take them. He said once it is determined the boats are abandoned, whatever the public does not take, the city will pay to have them removed.
It is unknown how much the removal will cost. Any money spent will come from the city’s Hospitality Tax funds.
Carter said the Corps told him they do not have the manpower or funds in their budget to remove abandoned boats.
By Scott Harper