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County Council, February 22

James Island to create “civic” space at Folly/Camp Road intersection
County will lease land for $1 a year
Warwick Jones

Zoning matters took up about half of the discussion at yesterday’s meetings. Most of the balance related to the proposal by James Island to create a civic space on a parcel of land at the junction of Camp and Folly roads.

The land at the junction of the two roads is owned by the County. A single building sits on the property but is unused. Up until a few months ago, it was a Subway store. Major renovation and construction work by the Department of Transport (DOT) has been underway on the junction now for some time but should be completed within a month or so. However the DOT will be acquiring part of the parcel for right-of-way (ROW). The County expects finalization of the agreement relating to the ROW by the end of the year.

In his address to the Finance Committee, Mayor Woolsey proposed that the County lease the property to James Island for a dollar a year for five years. He asked for three options beyond the first term, each to extend the lease for a further five years. He said that the City proposed to demolish the existing building to create parking, green space and a CARTA bus stop. The City plans to spend about $828,000 on improving the property -- it would comprise $95,000 design and engineering, $166,000 for site preparation, $444,000 for drainage and construction and $122,000 for contingency. The Mayor expected spending to be spread over a few years and hoped to draw on the Town’s Hospitality Tax fund to finance the expenditure. The Town would assume all responsibility for management and maintenance liability.

The County ultimately went along with the proposal by the Mayor, but it was not plain sailing until Chairman Rawl proposed an amendment.

Council members Pryor and Johnson wondered why the Town did not want to buy the property. Council member Pryor said that he would be happy to sell the property at its $600,000 cost. Councilmember Johnson just didn’t think the lease deal was appropriate. She felt the property should be sold and the proceeds reinvested in John’s Island transportation projects. Mayor Woolsey indicated that the cost of the property plus the cost of the proposed changes were beyond the Town’s budget.

Other Council members generally were in favor of the proposal but had some reservations. They particularly related to the three-year extensions of the lease. How could they be sure that the Town would complete the work it proposed? They wanted more details of the arrangement with DOT.

Chairman Rawl proposed that a caveat be inserted in the agreement that committed the Town to completing the work that the Mayor proposed within the first 5 years. The subsequent three-year options for extension would hinge on the completion of this work. The first 5-year agreement would begin when the ROW matter is cleared, hopefully by the end of the year. Council member Qualey moved that the Town’s proposal be accepted and that the Chairman’s caveat be worked into the proposal. The motion was seconded by Council member Sass and the Finance Committee voted 4 to 3 to accept the Town’s proposal. Council members Moody, Johnson and Pryor voted against approval. Council member Darby abstained and Council member Summey was absent.