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City Council Meeting - November 9

Marion Square to have Ice Rink
Warwick Jones who is covering for Marc Knapp. Marc was attending his bid for the Republican Party nomination for a seat on County Council

Council voted to let Creative Marketing Strategies install an ice rink at Marion Square for the Christmas - New Year holiday period. The mayor wanted an agreement that allowed the operator to set up for each of the three years beginning November this year. Some other council members were not so keen and suggested that a one year trial period would be better. They did not prevail with the Mayor arguing that it would take a year for the provider to recoup its investment.

The City will receive 25% of the gross proceeds of ticket sales after the investment of the operator has been recouped. Tickets would be $8 each and entitle a holder to 90 minutes of skating time. Skates would also be available for rent at $2 per time.

Councilmember Fishburne reminded the Council that it did not have a happy experience with ice rinks and he hoped that this time, the City would not end up with ownership.

If there were an unusual twist it was the "entente cordiale" twixt the operator of the proposed rink at Marion Square and Carolina Ice Palace, the owner of the existing rink in North Charleston. The latter was not happy about its new competitor and the impact on its own operations. However, possibly with some prodding by the mayor, they agreed to be "good friends" and to work together to promote skating in the community.

The Washington Light Infantry (WLI) owns the park that is operated by the City. According to the City, WLI has given approval for the ice rink though the agreement remains to be signed. Funny, we always thought that Marion Square was a "passive" park and that such things as ice rinks could not be installed. Maybe the ice rink slides through because it is not a permanent fixture. And will it bring much business to King Street over the holiday period, one of the reasons given for setting it up?

Few changes likely in City's policy on smoking in bars and restaurants
Council did not want to tackle the smoking issue, at least not yet. The Committee formed to make a recommendation to the Council filed its report but Councilmembers only received it over the weekend. The recommendations, in the words of Council member Fishburne, essentially are a "continuation of the status quo". Dealing only with the hospitality industry, the report said smoking should be allowed in designated places but signs had to be posted. There was also the suggestion of financial incentives for those operators who wished to have "smoke-free" establishments. Most of the Council discussion, and there was a lot, revolved on procedure.

Should the report be given to the City's Legal department to draft an ordinance, or should the discussion on the report be deferred until after the holiday period by which time Council would have time to fully consider it? It seemed that it all added up to the same thing and it was resolved that the report would be passed on to the Legal Department for the creation of an ordinance. This would be the basis for public and Council discussion, preparatory to a final ordinance.

Councilmember Tinkler was clearly was not happy about the possibility of a total ban and suggested that two ordinances be prepared, one allowing smoking in "cabarets".

The committee also suggested that the City take the initiative in approaching the County and other cities in the county in an attempt to create a uniform ordinance. A uniform ordinance would allow a "level playing field" for bar and restaurant operators.

Councilmember George makes a plea
Councilmember George suggested that Council try harder to mend relations with James Island residents. Any plans for James Island to incorporate were effectively dead, he said. But there was still deep hostility on the island towards the City of Charleston. The City is not communciating with the residents and needs to listen to their grievances. The City should develop a public policy in relation to the island.

Councilmember George's comments were precipitated by more annexations of properties on James Island. He also said that work need to be done to eliminate the duplication of services by the City and the James Island Public Service Board. This duplication had arisen because of the many annexations that had occured. Council member Fishburne, who also represents part of James Island, also spoke about the duplication of services and the need for the City to be careful and not to annex any distance from properties already in the City.

Mayor Riley clearly took exception with the Councilmembers. He said that any land that was annexed was done at the owner's request, and that all land had to be "contiguous" to City property to qualify for annexation. And besides, the people of James Island had a lot to thank the City for. He ran off a list of parks and other projects that had been bought or financed by the City.

Tunnel under Maybank Highway gets final approval
The controversial tunnel under Maybank Highway got the final nod from Council last night. The Highway divides the City golf course and with the large increase in traffic over the years, crossing has become a hazard for the players. There has been some opposition to the tunnel in that it was being funded largely by the City and for the benefit of only a select few. On the other hand, proponents said that it was a public course and open to anybody.

Council approved a contract with The Industrial Company for a net $1.52 million. This is about $206,000 less than originally proposed and reflected changes in construction, relating to drainage, waterproofing, and light fixtures. Approximately $1.1 million of the cost is being provided by the City through a non-interest bearing loan with an indefinite repayment schedule. The balance of the project's cost will be funded largely by the SC Department of Transport.

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