At a special called meeting of the Board of Stewards on Sunday, September 2nd, the board adopted a recommendation made by the Belle Isle Marina Redevelopment Committee (BIMRC) based on their special meeting earlier in the day. This recommendation was made after presentation of two options to move forward with the marina.
BIMRC developed two environmental options in response to obstacles only recently raised this week by SCDNR to solutions proposed by engineers going back to 2016/17, essentially saying that a permit would not be granted for any structure placed within the marina basin, such as a seawall and including a geotube pyramid structure configured as a wall. The option adopted is the least initial cost to Belle Isle members, and it appears at this early date to be sustainable financially without a special assessment and everyone involved is committed to that becoming reality. In addition, we have had a cursory review by SCDNR Office of Environmental Protection (OEP) and they have greenlighted this option. It is not a permit approval; however, it raises no more red flags.
Since a large component of any dredge has been the cost of spoils deposit/removal, the size of any dredge is for now limited to approximately 34K cubic yards of spoils material (down to 5' of material moved). To limit the dredge to this volume for this year, the marina footprint will be reduced by approximately 40% to 50% to provide 40 to 50 slips (instead of 80), including courtesy docks. Unfortunately, there is presently no current solution for being able to divert the freshwater from the lake spillway to significantly reduce the catalyst of freshwater causing sediment within tidal saltwater to drop right in our basin, nor to prevent sediment-filled tidal water from coming into the basin in the first place. Therefore, for now, we will need to dredge annually to maintain a channel for water access within the basin. Engineering studies project that without seawalls at the entrance and against marsh grass areas, for each 5' of materials removed, we will lose 18" to 26" of access annually.
While dredging annually is not the best possible news, the option adopted does provide for best use of funds to minimize cost both initially and annually to maintain a boating channel within the marina. Initial cost is in the range of $625K-$700K. Annual dredge cost is in the range of $125K-$150K. BIMRC and BOS emphasize that these are early numbers and, even so, do indicate there is a fiscally responsible reason to move forward with next steps. The BOS voted on a motion to apply for a permit, develop a proforma, acquire financing, and mobilize equipment to begin dredging as early as mid-December and have an operating marina by late winter. BIMRC and BOS also emphasize that there may be many iterations to the actual number and configuration of docks, and both organizations are committed to keeping membership informed.
How Much Will the Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) Cover?
The BIG grant's purpose is to support the development of transient boating infrastructure as folks move up and down the coasts, rivers, and ICW (marinas, additional docks, restrooms, laundry facilities, food service, fueling, etc.). The adopted option does not focus on these transient boater components that would qualify as an expenditure to be reimbursed 18 months later. To maintain a courteous relationship with SCDNR/OEP and other state and federal agencies involved in grant decisions, BIMRC voted to recommend that the BOS pass a motion to officially withdraw our BIG grant application. Sustaining a good relationship with these individuals and agencies leaves the door open to pursue BIG monies in the future if it makes sense for Belle Isle Marina.
Thanks to all who have already submitted their marina survey. If you have not yet submitted one for your unit, please do so before the deadline September 16th. The responses to the survey will play a part in shaping the configuration of the marina, and in the projection of financial operations. If you do not share what your needs are they may be overlooked, whether you are a boater or non-boater.