What’s Neighborhood Improvement Committee all about

22 Aug What’s Neighborhood Improvement Committee all about

From time to time I have mentioned the Neighborhood Improvement Committee that meets at city hall monthly.  Rather than describe one of the meetings, I am attaching minutes from the last meeting.  I believe this will give you and insight and hopefully encourage you to either attend of make sure someone from your neighborhood does attend these worthwhile meetings.

Minutes August 16 Neighborhood Associations Meeting

A meeting of the Neighborhood Associations was held on August 16, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. City Hall in the Planning Department’s first floor conference room, 1911 Boundary Street. In attendance were the Neighborhood Association Representatives and City Staff.

Ms. Anderson introduced City Councilman Mike McFee. Councilman McFee said, “kudos to Public Works for the stormwater and drainage issues due to recent rain”. Ms. Anderson reminded everyone not to dump leaves in ditches but to call the City to clean them out.

Ms. Anderson introduced County Councilwoman Alice Howard. Councilwoman Howard said they are working with SC DOT, the City and County regarding stormwater. There is a board meeting is today. Mr. Taylor said he sent an email to everyone including Ms. Howard to see what we can do jointly; rain is not going away. Ms. Chemsack said SC DOT is on Battery Creek Road today. Councilman McFee said City, County, and DOT are working together as corporate assets. Ms. Chemsack said Southside Park has a very low part. Councilman McFee said originally the ponds design of the park included the ponds which were used for drainage, but wasn’t a necessity; we need to revisit this.

Twin Lakes resident referred to his issue. He said, “it’s not twin lakes anymore, its one lake”. He said the pond has filled up for 12 years and has been clogged and not draining. Hurricane Matthew made it worse. He said it’s now sitting around 6”. Mr. Taylor said we are aware of this issue. He explained there is no outfall to relieve it and how it was designed to hold it. Now it’s not a city issue but a SC DOT and County issue. Twin Lakes resident said that there is an outflow and asked when would it be resolved. Mr. Taylor said he’s not going to lie, he can’t promise a date because money is needed. Twin Lakes resident then asked about having his road paved. He said he’s been asking for years and never gets a straight answer.


Waste Pro, Lamar Taylor, introduced the new General Manager, Kevin Exley. Mr. Exley said we have a new website up and running. He wants everyone to look at the website and let him know if there are any issues. He said they also have the knowledge of “handicap” houses information available now. City Manager, Bill Prokop, said there will be a worksession with Council in September with a presentation on “how to” work Waste Pro’s new webpage. Ms. Roper said she will give a demonstration next month on how to maneuver on the website. Mr. Exley said we’ve made the website more “visual” with photo‐related information such as pictures of our drivers. Mr. Easton asked what the schedule was now for yard debris in the Northwest Quadrant. Mr. Exley said yard waste is the same as it has been, but the “tagging” is getting in the way and bundling not right size according to the ordinance. Mr. Easton said nothing has been picked up since Monday. Mr. Exley will look into this. Mr. Taylor said drivers need to report when it’s not picked up. And the resident should call as well.

Ms. Woodhead said Battery Point had issues with nothing being picked up due to truck breaking down. She asked if an email can go out to the board member so we know next time. Mr. Exley said there is communication lacking on our part. The tracEZ System is much better

than calling in. Mr. Roberts commented that the drivers are always friendly. Mr. Exley saidtheir customer service has improved and they no longer have voicemail, so when a customer calls the line will ring until someone picks up. Glebe resident suggested that there be no passwords for these websites. Mr. Prokop said the City doesn’t have any passwords on their websites.

Cora Lee Shoemaker with Public Works said on the City’s website there is a link for Waste Pro, it’s the old version, but still works. Waste Pro has worked diligently with Mr. Taylor and Ms. Roper. Ms. Shoemaker talked about the “tagging” and why drivers are slow. When there is an issue, we do let the receptionist at City Hall know as well as Libby Anderson, she said. Councilman McFee asked if there is still the mass calling four when trucks are down. Mr. Exley said yes. Mr. Roberts referred to the current website that referred to plastic bags and asked if the Lowes bags are acceptable. Ms. Roper said yes, its “disposable” bags. Mr. Exley said there will be more detailed and understandable information on the new webpage. Mr. Hopey asked if the blast call list is able to be updated if someone’s phone number changes. Ms. Shoemaker said yes, its though BJWS&A; you would contact them. Mr. Exley said this is very important and he will add it to their website on the front page. Ms. Whitsel said the trash/recycle cans are hard to differ from and asked if there is one truck or two trucks for pickups? Mr. Exley said there is one truck for both. Ken Meola, Codes Enforcement Officer, said he’s seeing an issue with bulk pick up specifically couches. It used to be identified by truck driver to be called in and then picked up on Saturdays. The problem I’m seeing, he said, is that this message is not being received. Mr. Exley said we set up bulk as a “call in”. Mr. Taylor said sometimes the items are out and no one claims them. Mr. Meola said to call him or Public Works and we can see if it’s in the tracEZ system. Mr. Meola asked, “can the driver put in a tracEZ System complaint”? Mr. Exley said yes. Ms. Anderson asked if there is a charge for bulk pick up? No said Mr. Taylor. Mr. Meola said most don’t’ know they don’t have to call in to have a bulk item picked up.

Ms. Chemsack said some of her neighbors just don’t care even though they know the rules. Mr. Meola said he doesn’t have problem with knocking on doors, but how will he know Public Work’s is not aware of the issue.

The Greenery, Mike Folkes, said the playground bathrooms are under construction; putting in new sinks. The rain has affected us and now some of the green areas in the park have been burnt by the chemical they use. He said they used the brand Dismiss which is $900 per gallon and it covers 20 acres. Mr. Roberts asked, “what are the hours of the bathrooms”? Mr. Folkes said from dusk ‘til dawn. Ms. Sedlacek said she was walking through her area in Spanish Point today and said the sand is terrible from the rain and asked, “what can be done”? Mr. Taylor said he’ll ask Martin Landscaping to do a sweep through and he’ll go out himself to look at it today.

Southern Palmetto Landscape, Blake Austin, said we are ahead of the debris and gutters. The ROWs are getting high due to all the rain even though we’re doing our quarterly sweep. He said they will be in Spanish Point tomorrow and we can shovel up the sand. Today we are in Mossy Oaks. The Bluff is mowed 2 times a month as well as the bank.

City Public Works Department, Lamar Taylor, went over his departments information as follows:


  •   Hancock Drainage – complete
  •   South Hermitage Drainage Project – 80% complete
  •   Will be starting Port Republic Street Drainage (400 block)
  •   Will be starting Ribaut Rd at United Way building drainage
  •   Second quarter – start major project on AzaleaOther In‐House Projects:
  •   The last dog fountain installed at Southside Park
  •   Waterfront park restrooms upgrades – men’s in process and should be complete nextweek and women’s to follow.
  •   Pigeon Point Park – root invigoration on trees
  •   Waterfront Park will have a tree fertilizationThese are in addition to the normal maintenance by staff and the Greenery Contract.Localized Flooding:
    Over 3 weeks, had 15 days of rain which led to massive amounts of water on streets. Some very heavy in a short period of time; some during high tides; and some just too much water for any infrastructure to handle quickly, but it did subside.Public Work staff did address after flooding in Southside Boulevard. First Boulevard area during flooding, infrastructure issues exist and will take major work from SC DOT and the City and County to assist.

    The Point and various areas throughout the city were addressed before, during and after downpours.

    Tree Removal of Hazardous Trees for 2018:

  •   Have removed one on Palmetto Street
  •   Have removed one at Fire Headquarters
  •   Will be doing 3 on Jane Way, 1 at Tic Tock park, and 1 at Evergreen Cemetery
  •   Starting today trimming on Bay Street, Ribaut Road from 1st Boulevard to HermitageRoadMr. Taylor said we requested 7 additional roads to be paved from the CTC. Ms. Woodhead asked about Old Salem. Ms. Howard said it’s on the County’s list as a priority.Paving Projects from SC DOT:
    •   Washington (Carteret to Charles)
    •   Craven Street (to river)

Paving Projects from SC DOT:

  •   Monson (Bay to Washington)
  •   Harrington (Bay to Duke)
  •   Harrington (Boundary to Calhoun)
  •   Newcastle (Prince to Boundary)
  •   Newcastle (Calhoun to Godfrey)
  •   Pine Court (Ribaut to Pine Court North)DOT Issues that were reported to local office:
  •   Have had 5 issues over past month; responded to all. These are all drainage issues andthey have each been scheduled for pipe clean out and will continue through asequipment is available.
  •   Last month had 6 issues from road washouts to road repairs and all were addressed.
  •   We are working well together and SC DOT local office is responding well to our requests.Mr. Taylor reminded everyone that we are now in the Hurricane season and Public Work is reviewing all vehicle and equipment maintenance, gathering listing of “hot spots” for drainage (which we do now with all the rain – doing pre‐rainfall, during, and post rainfall).He said meetings with Waste Pro and landscape contractors including Southern Palmetto and Greenery. We are also working closely with Core District Manager, Linda Roper.Our staff has attended classes for tree cutting and removal and a CPR reminder class. Upcoming class will be First Aid in September.

    Mr. Lamar introduced a new employee with Public Works, Nat Farrell, their Stormwater Department. He said we are advertising for another employee for department; currently have 3 people.

    Ms. Shoemaker said we are working on a tip sheet that will let everyone know how to prevent flooding. She said Ms. Anderson will be sending it out soon via email to all the neighborhoods. Mr. Taylor referred to overflow ditches at Southside. He used the resident’s rake to clean out the ditch and anyone can do this to prevent something becoming a larger issue. Ms. Chemsack asked if Broad Street was part of it. Mr. Taylor said yes. He said the restriction is at the rail trail. Ms. Chemsack said her son lives on Southside and he was impressed to see Mr. Taylor out in the water in his khakis.

    Mr. Roberts mentioned the Beaufort County Connect App and asked if the City is included in this. Mr. Prokop said the county said we are the only one not part of it. No one ever approached us, Mr. Prokop said. We will have a presentation next Tuesday at 10:30 am by Mr. Gecy and then we will know what needs to be done to be part of it.

    Park Beaufort, Linda Roper, said we are temporarily moving to 500 Carteret Street, next door to Budget Print, for 60‐90 days.

City Fire Department, Fire Marshal, Tim Ogden, said we’ve been busy getting the schools ready to open for the new year. We’ve had training for the hurricane season with the County, he said. There have been two car fires recently; one related to an electrical device being left on the dashboard and other was related to a break‐in.

Ms. Howard said at our National Resource Meeting on August 22 we will discuss whether we are going to ban or not ban plastic grocery bags. This is not really a public meeting, but I wanted to make everyone aware of it. Lt. Squires said when he helped with the Katrina Hurricane, there were bags everywhere including in the trees.

Mr. Exley said education is the schools is very important. Mr. Taylor said he has solid waste disposal records. Mr. Roberts asked if they’re available to the public.

City Police Department, Lt. Charles Squires, said we’ve had some break‐ins and vandalism in the Pigeon Point area which may have been younger suspects, not gang related. He reminded everyone to keep your window blinds open and outside lights on. Some other things going on are:

  •   Police Department will be temporarily moving to the Duke Street Substation the week of Labor Day
  •   SRO Officers will be back in schools on Thursday
  •   Crossing guards will be back out on Thursday
  •   Provided Back‐to‐School events
  •   Washington Street Park Project
  •   Speed trailer on Southside Boulevard for a week
  •   Crime Prevent Groups starting up again
  •   New vehicles were approved
  •   Have a good number of officers nowMs. Woodhead said she called the Police Department last week about dog tethering situation. The officer told her if the dog has water and isn’t in any distress, it’s okay. Lt. Squires said he will check on this because he thought it was not allowed. Battery Point resident said the dogs were left out in the pouring rain and felt bad. Ms. Woodhead said the one dog barks all night. Lt. Squires said to call Animal Control.Building Codes, Bruce Skipper, said we are now in hurricane season and there are already storms out there. He recommended everyone get their plans together and call their insurance companies to check on policies/coverage. He encouraged anyone to call him if they see issues that can cause flooding with storm drains. Mr. Skipper informed everyone about the Contractor’s Workshop he is holding on August 31 at City Hall from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm with food and soda provided.Codes Enforcement, Ken Meola, said there are high grass and trash issues he is dealing with. He reminded the group to call him if they see anything they want him to look into.

City Planning Department, Libby Anderson, said there is an opening on the City’s Design Review Board for a citizen representative which there is no special training required for. She will need the application returned by this Friday.

Old Commons, said our next meeting will be September 21; we took the summer off.

Lt. Squires reminder everyone about the ATM “skimmers” that have been in the County lately, but not in the City. He said when at the ATM, pull on that section where you put in your card to see if its loose. If so, don’t use it. The gas pumps also have issues. If you see the security tape is tampered with, don’t use it.

Northwest Quadrant, resident, said the places at Duke and Church looking good and the house at Duke and Harrington has a new roof.

Hermitage Road, Phil Hodges, said there is almost perfect staff attendance at these meetings, but we do need more neighborhood representatives. Ms. Anderson said she will reach out to these people.

Councilman McFee said Steven Murray and Phil Cromer usually come but they are taking off the summer.

Ms. Shoemaker asked can you be an individual and not from an association to attend these meetings? Ms. Anderson said, yes.

Ms. Anderson said the Bay and Simms Street house will be done soon. Glebe resident said it was a duplex that was turned into a single‐family house and its wonderful. No one would ever know it was a duplex at one time. She referred to the grass in the front and the big area of pine straw which she feels won’t long with the owner’s puppy.

Ms. Chemsack said she is happy they are working on the drainage. Councilman McFee said the weeds still continue to grow unfortunately and the residents forget and there’s low maintenance. Lt. Squires said we’ve had high tides that don’t help.

Ms. Anderson ended with saying, “Happy Eclipse”. Next Meeting is September 18.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:25 a.m.