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Editorial: Harborwalk repair - Wooden Boat Show controversy ruffles many feathers

  • Friday, November 1, 2013

  • Updated Friday, November 1, 2013 11:54 am

Rules are rules, and rules are made to be broken. As with many trite expressions, there’s a lot of validity to both points of view.

When fire blazed through many century-old buildings on Front Street on Sept. 25, seven buildings, 10 businesses and 130 jobs were lost.
Many people came together, rallied around, held prayer services, dinners, gave food and clothing and money to help those affected and more.
“Georgetown is open for business” is the message many people have put out, and we’ve shared that message.

Within a matter of hours, committees for the Wooden Boat Show and A Taste of Georgetown let it be known that those activities would continue despite the havoc wrought by the fire.

The Wooden Boat Show is probably the single-biggest event in the City of Georgetown, drawing from 15,000 to 20,000 people this year. It’s not just a funding mechanism for the South Carolina Maritime Museum, but it’s a salute to much of the heritage of our port city and our county.
Some people just come for a day, while others are so attracted to our wonderful community that they return to dine, to shop, do business, rest and play throughout Georgetown County.

Certainly, there are rules about construction, repairs, safety and more.
Various officials said that a portion of Harborwalk would have to be closed because of damage to the wood of the boardwalk that runs along the Sampit River.

Some of these same officials also said they would do all they could to help make sure that people knew Georgetown is open for business — but they wouldn’t authorize repairs to Harborwalk.
If the 60-foot section of Harborwalk remained closed, that would mean people coming to town for the Wooden Boat Show would have to detour for a block to get from one point of Harborwalk to another.

Since the boats in and along the Harbor are key to the success of the show, committee members wanted to do all they could to make the view of the Sampit River accessible to visitors.
Verbal approval for a design and materials for temporary repairs was given by some city officials, but written permission was not obtained. Some of those connected with making the repairs thought the verbal OK was all that was necessary.
In about a 12-hour period, the work was done to allow people to walk along Harborwalk and enjoy the sights. That work was completed on Friday before 24th annual Wooden Boat Show on Saturday, Oct. 19.

We’ve had several news articles, letters to the editor and other op-ed pieces and comments on our Facebook page about the controversy.

Building and code enforcement officials have rules they are supposed to enforce — but those rules got in the way of getting the job done to help bring home the point to perhaps 20,000 people — more than double the population of the City of Georgetown — that the city is open for business.

Did city officials go too far in criticizing those who got the repairs done?
Did the people doing the work and putting up a banner go to far in making the repairs?

See the first sentence, above.


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