Friday, August 23, 2013
GEORGETOWN S.C. — A consulting firm from Pawleys Island, one of eight companies being considered, was picked by Georgetown City Council to create a park and nature observation plan at a cost of $18,000 for Goat Island.
The goal is to provide a plan to the present property owner, who also has asked for a time-frame for construction, so the owner could make a decision by October.
Jerry Blackmon of Charlotte, the owner of the roughly 30-acre island in the Sampit River between Front Street and East Bay Park, is considering donating about 20 acres to the City of Georgetown.
The 20 acres or so to be donated is estimated to be worth about $900,000, and such a plan should be a positive for the city and the land owner, who has asked for assurances the municipality will not seek commercial development of the acreage, such as condos, which he seems not interested in having on Goat Island. The property does not have water, sewer or electricity, so such development would be costly.
Soils maps show five acres are wetlands and five acres could have walking trails, nature watch platforms and picnic areas. Such an area would be checked for possible pre-existing remains of industrial activity a long time ago. It could be a good buffer to minimize the visual effects of commercial operations located to the south.
Another issue facing the city is the number of abandoned boats near the island.
Blackmon has told the city no boat is there with his permission. Eventually, the city will be placing a placard on abandoned vessels, requesting documentation that trespassing is not involved, and then providing a warning period of 40 or 60 days before an official trespass notice is posted.
A boat is considered to be abandoned if there has been no activity on the vessel for 45 days. Abandoned boats are a big concern because they could be blown around and end up onshore during storm events, city officials indicate.
It is unknown how much the boat removal will cost. Any money spent will come from the city’s Hospitality Tax funds. Goat Island will most likely be accessible by boaters only, officials said.
Council gave approval for a second reading of an ordinance by adding Chapter 20 Article X "City Maritime Mooring Field, Boats and Abandoned Vessels" to ordinances, after hearing from boat owner Larry Barrineau and several others who were interested in making public comments. Barrineau said his vessel has been broken into since the Goat Island proposals have been publicized. “We need a commercial seaport mooring facility,” he said.
By Lloyd Mackall
For the Times