Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Last week, as reported in Friday’s Georgetown Times, city leaders said the portion of the Harborwalk boardwalk damaged by last month’s fire would not open during this past Saturday’s Wooden Boat Show.
However, when Saturday arrived, the thousands of people in attendance at the boat show were able to walk the entire distance of the boardwalk.
At a meeting conducted by S.C. Sen. Yancey McGill last Wednesday, City administrator Chris Carter said some of the pilings underneath the boardwalk were charred, causing it to be “structurally compromised.”
Jonathan Heald, the city's Public Works director, agreed, telling McGill the area where the damage is located “is not structurally sound.” He said “putting a lot of traffic on it could be dangerous.”
Carter said the city’s plan was to keep a 64-foot area of the boardwalk blocked off.
So, how was the Harborwalk able to be completely open on Saturday?
According to city planner Rick Martin, he was out of town at a funeral last Wednesday. He said on his way back he received a call from a contractor who said emergency repairs could be made so the boardwalk could be open Saturday.
Martin said he told the contractor “OK” but did not mean permission had been granted for the repairs.
Martin said he also received a call from Harby Moses, owner of Coastal Structures, who asked about any permitting that would be needed to make the temporary fix.
Martin said he did not get a chance to review the plans or issue any building permits.
“We never issued any permits and the next thing I know the work was completed,” Martin said. “If I had been there, I would not have approved it.”
He said there may have been a misunderstanding because another member of city staff had said it was OK for a temporary repair to be made. However, city ordinances mandate a building permit be obtained before any such work can take place.
Martin said Moses did sign a “hold harmless agreement,” meaning the city would not have been held liable if someone had gotten hurt on the boardwalk where the repairs were made.
Moses did not return repeated calls placed by the Georgetown Times.
Martin said a banner that stretched over the Harborwalk where the repairs were made was placed there illegally because no one obtained a sign permit.
The banner stated: Harborwalk Open Courtesy of Progress for Georgetown with the help of Coastal Structures.
“No one got a sign permit and that bothers me,” Martin said.
Progress for Georgetown is a group supporting the Republicans running for Georgetown mayor and city council on Nov. 5.
“I don’t want anyone benefiting from our disasters,” Martin said.