DI public boat landing plans facing further delays
Plans for the proposed Daniel Island public boat landing on the Wando River under the I-526 overpass were recently sent back to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) for additional design work to be completed.
The original plans estimated that the cost of the project would fall around $800,000, but according to Josh Martin, senior advisor to Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, the SCDNR is now quoting a $1.2 million price tag. Because of this and considerable staffing changes within the SCDNR, there have been further delays to the project.
“The project funding and contingency is about $800,000, which is earmarked for construction,” said Martin. “That was an estimate given by the DNR provided to the City back in 2016. The most recent estimate that they are now quoting is at the $1.2 million plus mark. We’re not aware of any additional funding at this time. The ball is in the DNR court, in our opinion.”
But as State Senator Larry Grooms explained, the funding for the project is there. In October of last year, the Berkeley Legislative Delegation and SCDNR voted to reaffirm financial commitment to the project. With $1.2 million currently available to the City, Grooms expressed confusion as to why delays on the project continue.
“Since Alvin Taylor became the Director of SCDNR in 2011, I have had an agreement with SCDNR that up to $1 million of federal funds would be obligated for the Daniel Island boat landing as long as the Berkeley Legislative Delegation authorized $200,000 in state funds for the project,” said Grooms. “Although funding for the project has been available for nearly a decade, it is likely that it will be re-obligated to another project if the City does not act this fiscal year.”
In order to hopefully push the plans forward, officials from the county, city and DNR will be meeting in the near future to discuss design and budget, added Martin.
“What we’re trying to do is we’re setting up a meeting for all parties to get around one table to discuss the steps moving forward to finalize design, get a realistic budget, and then if there are any funding matters that need to be resolved, come up with a plan for that so we move this forward and to deliver the boat ramp to the public,” said Martin.
But Charleston City Councilman Gary White, a resident of Daniel Island, stressed that the initiative is not a city project.
“The City has no financial role in this project,” stated White. “The project is to be funded completely by SC Department of Natural Resources. This project is being run by SCDNR. They are designing and building it. The City’s role is that we own the land that it is being built on and after it is complete we will take care of on-going operations and maintenance.”
For long-time Daniel Island resident and avid boater Ted Bishop, the boat landing is a serious need. With very few places to put a boat in on the island, it can be challenging to find somewhere that is not overcrowded during the summer.
“If you’ve ever been to the boat landings down here, what is always brought up are the crowds,” said Bishop. “Where are cars supposed to park when they have trailers? It gets out of hand during the summer. We live on Beresford Creek Street on the way to the (Bellinger Island) landing and on a Saturday morning, you’d be amazed at the amount of cars.”
One concern that many residents have expressed, added Bishop, is the influx of people that a public boat landing may bring. But with people traveling to the island to use the boat ramp, surrounding businesses, like Refuel and Publix, could be positively affected.
“The public boat landing will be public, but also it would benefit the businesses like Refuel when boaters stop for ethanol-free gas and businesses that carry stuff that people would take out on the boat,” said Bishop. “It would be a win-win for businesses. I don’t think people think about the economic impact of a boat landing.”
Both Bishop and resident Kathryn Adel, who expressed concerns about the inflow of people the boat landing could bring, recommended that those who visit the landing pay to access it.
“In Fort Lauderdale, they have boat landings down there where they are pay slots,” said Bishop. “You pay like $5 to $10 a day to go and you park in a designated spot, just like you do downtown here. You park your car, you put $5 in and you go. It would help pay for it.”
“Hopefully people will have to pay to have access so it doesn’t become too crowded, or at least people that don’t live on the island,” said Adel.
According to Jane Baker, vice president of community services for the Daniel Island Property Owners Association (POA), the POA fields numerous calls, usually each spring, asking for an update on the status of the project.
“The project has been compounded with complications over the years, especially with three different governmental entities involved in either the funding, permitting and/or building of the boat landing,” stated Baker. “With the population of Daniel Island alone at just over 10,000 residents, and the growth of the Cainhoy Peninsula in general, the density of residents and their interest in boating the Lowcountry waterways really does warrant this public boat landing.”