Local officials answer resident concerns at May DINA meeting
Pedestrian crosswalks, the roundabout at Seven Farms and Daniel Island Drives, stop sign enforcement, parking, and the connectivity of paths were among the topics addressed during last Tuesday night’s Q&A session held during the Daniel Island Neighborhood Association’s May meeting.
Additionally, residents were briefed on the progress of the planned Daniel Island recreation/community center, the new recycling plant under construction in Berkeley County, and the Berkeley County School District. Attendees were also introduced to the City of Charleston’s new police chief, Luther Reynolds, who spoke at the gathering.
Local leaders on hand to answer questions included Jane Baker, vice president of community services for the Daniel Island Property Owners Association; City of Charleston Director of Parks Jason Kronsberg; Berkeley County Councilman Josh Whitley; Lt. James Byrne of the City of Charleston Police Department; Berkeley County Supervisor Bill Peagler; Berkeley County Deputy Supervisor of Finance Tim Callanan; and Berkeley County School District Superintendent Eddie Ingram.
Check out the highlights below or watch the entire meeting on DINA’s Facebook page.
WELCOME CHIEF REYNOLDS
Lt. Byrne introduced the police department’s new leader to the nearly full room of audience members at the Church of the Holy Cross. Chief Luther Reynolds, who recently moved into his new home on Daniel Island with his family, started in his new role last month.
Chief Reynolds said, “It’s an absolute privilege to be a member of this profession, and specifically of this department and a member of this community.”
RECREATION/COMMUNITY CENTER UPDATE
Daniel Island resident Frank Walsh shared that he and fellow committee member Marcia Miller have been meeting with city officials about the project and looking at other recreation/community centers. Walsh stated that they would like to see additional meeting rooms added to the current plans as well as a bocce court. He noted that the plans do include basketball and volleyball courts and rooms for fitness and activities and that the City has already increased its commitment from $5.3 million to $9.5 million to construct the new facility.
According to Walsh, there are not enough meeting rooms for clubs and activities included in the plans. He reported to the audience that the committee and Councilman Gary White would be asking the Daniel Island Community Fund (DICF) to put up an additional $200,000 to make those additions to the plans.
In a follow up email to questions posed by The Daniel Island News after the meeting, Jane Baker said that, due to other large park commitment funding, the DICF would not be contributing to construction costs on the recreation/community center.
“The Daniel Island Community Fund resident grant advisory board awarded the largest grant in its history last year for two major Daniel Island public park renovation projects, Waterfront Park and Guggenheim Plaza,” Baker stated. “The grant was made to DITA for $1.4 million over two years. These park renovation projects will benefit all Daniel Island property owners. The Community Fund is not in a position to fund any further park improvement projects due to this commitment for the foreseeable future. While the City of Charleston’s obligation to build a community center has been in place since the development agreement was originally recorded in 1995, in 2016 the City re-committed to fund the construction of the Community Center and commence construction by July, 2018 as part of the 4th amendment to the Daniel Island Development Agreement.”
Look for a more detailed update on the community center project in an upcoming edition of the paper.
Berkeley County Councilman Josh Whitley, also a Daniel Island resident, touted the new recycling plant that broke ground earlier this spring. Whitley proudly explained that once the new plant is complete Berkeley County will have 100 percent recycling for all residents and businesses in the County. And, he noted that it is not costing the County a dime, as it is being built and operated by a private company. The plant will actually be paying the County a fee on a portion of the recycling profits, Whitley said.
Q&A: PEDESTRIAN CROSSING CONCERNS
Several residents raised pedestrian crossing safety concerns about the intersection of Seven Farms Drive and Pier View Street and about Island Park Drive near the Refuel gas station (Fairchild Street), and at Guggenheim Park.
Lt. Byrne said the police are aware of the concerns at the crosswalk at Seven Farms and Pier View Street and that he would have his officers start policing more in that location.
In regards to the intersection of Fairchild Street and Island Park Drive near Refuel, Baker said the City has approved a pedestrian lighted crosswalk and that she expects the City to begin work soon. She also noted that Councilman Gary White is pushing for a traffic signal at that intersection.
Addressing concerns for crossing on Island Park Drive near Guggenheim Park, across from the clock tower and Dockery’s, Baker explained that two additional flash-lighted crosswalks are planned to be built during the park renovations.
Island resident Greg Turner brought up concerns of pedestrian crossing at the proposed roundabout at Seven Farms and Daniel Island Drives. Lt. Byrne said that his experience, and the evidence, is that roundabouts are safer than traditional crosswalks, and that he is in favor of the one planned at Seven Farms and Daniel Island Drives. “I’m optimistic it will be a better system,” he said.
Deputy Supervisor Callanan explained that there have been some changes in design. Instead of four right turn lanes, the roundabout will only have one right turn lane that will be on Daniel Island Drive coming from the school to turn onto Seven Farms Drive. He said he hopes the project will be under contract later this year and for construction to begin late this year or by early 2019.
There will be 16 flashing solar powered lights/signs for pedestrian access, he noted. “There is no way you will be able to go through this intersection and not know to slow down for pedestrian crossing.”
Q&A: TRAIL SYSTEM AND BRIDGE ON DANIEL ISLAND DRIVE NEAR BLACKBAUD
Jason Kronsberg said that the pedestrian bridge project is approved, funded and underway, but that planning and permitting will take time before construction begins.
Q&A: STOPPING AT STOP SIGNS
Lt. Byrne agreed that people failing to stop at stop signs is a concern. “I need to see more enforcement out of my guys,” he said.
Q&A: EROSION OF TRAILS AND SIDEWALKS AND ROADWAYS
In regards to the timing of the recently started construction and erosion abatement work underway on the trail running along the Wando River behind the Family Circle Tennis Center, Kronsberg said that the timing is due to permitting, FEMA approvals, funding, and the bid procurement process. “It is what it is,” he said, “and it’s frustrating for all of us.” The construction timetable is 80 days.
Baker asked for residents to please let her know about specific erosion or green area concerns so she can address them.
Q&A: BICYCLING/WALKING PATH FROM DANIEL ISLAND, ALONG CLEMENTS FERRY RD. TO HWY. 41 BRIDGE
“Over the years this has kind of been my baby,” volunteered Tim Callanan. He explained that “it’s a puzzle and we can get pieces at a time attached to specific projects.”
He noted that the end goal is to have a continuous, separated bike path that connects the Daniel Island trail system all the way down Clements Ferry to the new Wando Bridge on Highway 41. He said that Mt. Pleasant will be connecting the trail from the bridge to Highway 17.
Approximately 90 percent of the bike path is funded or under design and construction, added Callanan, but that the pieces that are not are a struggle, specifically the piece that connects Thomas Island Drive to Clements Ferry Road up to I-526.
“I am dedicated to making this happen,” he said.
Q&A: PARKING AT PIER NEAR CHILDREN’S PARK
Baker said there is currently no dedicated parking for the Daniel Island Ferry service or other pier/park usage, and there will be no dedicated parking in the future. There will be an additional 100 on-street parking spaces as part of the new development of the waterfront village, she said.
Q&A: STATUS OF EDUCATION IN BERKELEY COUNTY
Dr. Ingram gave an impassioned and honest assessment of education in Berkeley County. He noted that there are about 35,000 kids in the district and that the district has an 82-83 percent graduation rate, but that he is more interested in what they are graduating to. He explained that the district’s children speak over 30 languages, and that for over 3000 students, English is not their first language.
While Ingram was very upbeat and excited about educating children in the district, he did explain that the district will have a “Motel 6” budget over the next few years as it seeks to recover from embezzlement of funds by the previous comptroller.
But, Ingram was bullish on the future and the district’s ability to prepare its students for the new work environment of the 21st Century.
Ingram’s presentation was impressive and is well worth the time to view in full on DINA’s Facebook page.