Dear KICA Member,
As the chair of your KICA Board of Directors, I get to see parts of KICA’s inner workings that other property owners don’t. One aspect of the job that is always uplifting is the dedication of our KICA staff. There are the exceptional stories, especially in the aftermath of the storms we’ve experienced over my term, but mostly it’s the everyday things that make such a difference. Many of you can also recount an experience that exceeded your expectations – members tell me that the employees at The Sandcastle know them by name, along with the rest of their family. I know it brightens my day when I head to Beachwalker Center for a board meeting and I see the beautiful plantings maintained by our Land Department in front of the building. Despite being short-staffed in this exceptionally difficult labor market, those plants always look great. Maybe you have your own story, where something small made a big difference to your experience.
Those details are part of what makes this island the place we all chose to invest our time and money. This year, the board of directors felt that we should offer members the opportunity to show their appreciation to staff members for the high level of service they provide, and all they do to make Kiawah the premier community we all love. Tuesday, July 16 through Saturday, Aug. 31, members can make a contribution to the Employee Appreciation Fund (see below for ways to contribute). Funds will be distributed to 92 of KICA’s employees (not including seasonal employees, departments heads or the COO) in the first pay period in September.
In closing, I’d like to offer my thanks to the staff on behalf of the KICA Board of Directors for all they do on the island. Kiawah is a special place and we’re lucky to have this dedicated group of people looking after it.
KICA Board Chair
Show your thanks to KICA employees by making an online contribution. It takes just 1-2 minutes. Click here.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org using the subject “Employee Appreciation Fund” and provide your name, Kiawah address and the amount you would like to contribute to the fund. KICA will charge your member account and the amount will appear on your next monthly statement.
Mail a check or login to your online checking account to have your bank mail a check for you.
Payable to: Kiawah Island Community Association
Memo: Employee Appreciation Fund
Kiawah Island Community Association
ATTN: Human Resources
23 Beachwalker Drive
Kiawah Island, SC 29455
The Kiawah Island Community Association Board of Directors ratified a vote to confirm Dave Morley as treasurer at the July 1 meeting. Dave Morley was elected to the KICA board in 2019 but has many years of experience serving on the association’s Finance Committee. He takes over from Mike Feldmann, who left the board in May.
Inside this issue of Digest, the KICA board of directors asks you to participate in the association’s strategic planning. Complete the community survey for your voice to be heard. The July Digest also includes a look at Kiawah’s water management strategies, including a new forward-thinking way of looking at the island’s surface water.
Find out about fitness options at The Sandcastle, 4th of July events and more.
One of Kiawah’s most significant ongoing challenges is water management, and Kiawah isn’t the only coastal community that struggles to find solutions to mitigate flooding. Following the release of the Town of Kiawah Island’s (TOKI) Flood Mitigation and Sea Level Rise Adaptation Report, KICA’s board felt compelled to ensure the association was leading the charge and responding proactively to the report’s findings. KICA began this work with the appointment of two task forces, one which evaluates new infrastructure projects for water management (which includes precautions for flood mitigation, and other incidents such as storm surge and rain events) and another to determine funding sources for that new infrastructure.
KICA’s new approach to water management includes incorporating this work into the Strategic Plan. Ensuring that staff projects, association funds and high-level planning are directed toward water management goals, and establishing key metrics for success in achieving those goals, are important priorities for our board of directors. KICA is working to identify immediate priorities and establish a monitoring plan that adapts to our dynamic ecosystem and the challenges we face in the future. This forward-looking perspective will allow us to address the challenges in a responsible way.
One of the keys to this approach is KICA’s newest employee, Lucas Hernandez. Lucas was hired in June as KICA’s first-ever resilience specialist. COO Jimmy Bailey notes that “Lucas is perhaps the first resilience specialist hired by a community association in the entire country.” Lucas’ title refers specifically to water resilience, the primary goal of KICA’s water management strategy. With his specialized experience, he has a diverse toolbox to tackle this challenge.
Lucas has master’s degrees in Environmental Studies and Public Administration, and is heavily involved in the Charleston area flood mitigation conversation. He is a member of the Charleston Resilience Network and worked with TOKI to create simulations in for their sea level rise research. When KICA initiated the Finance Committee Infrastructure Task Force earlier this spring, Lucas came into focus as an essential piece of KICA’s strategic water management planning. He’s asking the same questions KICA has been in recent years: “how do we respond to flooding or to a natural disaster? How do we get people thinking about it in a different way?”
Lucas uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software to answer these tough questions, simulating how surface water moves on the island in detail down to the square meter. It includes details like elevation and soil types to account for how these characteristics affect water movement. When a water event, like a storm surge or rapid downpour, is simulated, the model shows how water levels will be impacted across the island and can pinpoint areas where drainage infrastructure could be overloaded.
“When we first met Lucas, we had him simulate the storm surge from Tropical Storm Irma, where we knew the outcome and we could test his model. His model showed effects that were remarkably similar to our experience during the storm,” commented Bailey.
There are almost endless ways this type of information can be used to better prepare Kiawah for the future. The first task Lucas will tackle is embedding about ten potential infrastructure projects within his Kiawah model to test how they would impact water flow and evaluate if the designs are successful or should be altered. The potential projects would affect areas of concern identified by the Finance Committee’s Infrastructure Task Force. By modeling the data in advance, KICA can be a better steward of its resources by implementing solutions that are likely to improve our water management abilities. It can also help us discard sub-optimal solutions before a costly implementation.
In the fall of 2019, KICA anticipates releasing a plan which will focus on actions that can be accomplished in the next five years to deal with various storm scenarios. This plan will include recommendations (pretested by Lucas’ modeling) by the Infrastructure Task Force, and funding plans for the potential new infrastructure.
Lucas will spend a portion of his time on education and outreach. In a community as close as Kiawah, “any time someone changes the flow of surface water, by raising the property elevation for example, that water has to go somewhere else. This can cause issues for neighbors or cause infrastructure to overload. Being thoughtful with how we approach this and considerate of others is crucial for a community like Kiawah.”
Lucas talks a lot about bridges, but not the sort you might expect from a person so heavily involved in infrastructure. Again and again, he goes back to bridging the gaps within KICA’s departments and island entities to ensure the island faces its challenges in the best possible way. “Resilience to me is about bounce back,” he says. “What ways can we be proactive? How can this information help everyone? I think the answers are in KICA already but how can we flesh those out?”
While Lucas’ work is just getting started, it is part of a larger strategy for water management that KICA has been working on for some time. He shares KICA’s perspective on the challenges that face this special place. “Kiawah is a premier community — we want to keep the island ahead of the game. By being flood ready, it shows that we’re pushing toward becoming a community that can respond quickly and can potentially become a model for other coastal communities.”
Dear KICA Member,
We’re inviting you to take part in KICA’s strategic planning for the future.
In the latter part of 2018, we held a series of three Community Conversation Sessions to explore how well we are fulfilling our mission. Since so many owners are part-time, we also committed to a community-wide survey based on what we heard to better assess our successes, opportunities, and future plans. The survey is now live through July 25. We invite each member of your Kiawah household to take the survey.
Please know that your answers are 100% confidential. We have asked an independent firm, The McNair Group, to conduct our survey to assure its confidentiality, and to assist us with analysis and recommendations. No individual responses are disclosed to anyone at KICA. When the summary results become available, we will share them with the community.
Finally, we understand that it is often confusing to determine who does what on Kiawah. If you need a refresher before taking the survey, click here .
We wish to extend our appreciation for your participation and ongoing support of KICA.
The Kiawah Island Community Association Board of Directors
As most of you know, 2019 has been a year devoted to a number of technology enhancements in our Security Department. We’re in the implementation phase of our most visible change, KICA’s new gate access system. Employees are getting familiar with the system in the early weeks of June.
As I’ve mentioned in many of our information sessions and articles one of KICA Security director Tony Elder’s missions on the island is to use technology to make things better for our members. If you attended or viewed the livestream for the recent Java with Jimmy, I talked about some of these many improvements: increasing the use of security cameras, looping in regimes so the Main Gate can have eyes on more of the island and an updated communication system that allows KICA staff, law enforcement and resort security to get information out in real time to deal with issues. All these changes make the island safer.
The new gate access system was developed by Applications by Design (ABDi), and is the same system used on Seabrook. With the system, which has a website and an app, you can request guest passes right from your phone which will be emailed to your guest. You can even sign up to receive notifications when your guest arrive on the island. You’ll receive a letter with detailed information on how to log in and get started once the system is available. This system will increase convenience for members by adding options but you’ll still be able to request a guest pass by calling or emailing.
A second piece of the upgrades involves moving people who don’t have guest passes out of the traffic flow at the Main Gate. Visitors, which is just our term for people who don’t have a guest pass waiting for them, represented about 2% of total traffic through the Main Gate last year. Visitors will be sent to the pass office at Beachwalker Center where they will provide their driver’s license, registration and insurance. This change will give us the ability to more easily identify and deal with those who abuse the system, and if necessary deny future access.
Later in 2019 and into 2020, other enhancements will be phased in, including the tracking of license plates to get data on contractor and employee movements on the island, moving from barcodes for access to RFIDs and an emergency management tool called Priority 5 that will give emergency teams a real-time look at island conditions in the event of a hurricane or other event.
KICA’s job is to balance between safety and convenience, and it’s sometimes hard to get just right. With a single access point, a popular public resort, significant commercial and consumer service activity, and other factors, dozens of judgment calls are made each day to maintain the appropriate balance between strict access and member lifestyle. KICA understands that there are trade-offs with this approach, and is constantly working on enhancements that strike the right balance between access control and member convenience.
Timing of implementation for these various system upgrades is a moving target, based on the integration of various systems so they work together and don’t create long lines and inconvenience. Not one of these systems alone can accomplish what we all want, which is efficient controlled access to Kiawah. There are many complicating variables – too many and too complex for a single communication to pin down.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. It’s an exciting time, and I know there will be opportunities for us to engage with members as we get closer to going live.
KICA Chief Operating Officer Jimmy Bailey
“As most of you know, 2019 has been a year devoted to a number of technology enhancements in our Security Department. We’re in the implementation phase of our most visible change, KICA’s new gate access system.”
— COO Jimmy Bailey
Read Jimmy Bailey’s letter to members and find out about all that’s happening around the island this June, including a look at the low speed vehicle study, Kiawah Cares About Education fundraiser, local farmers markets and more.
At the last few KICA board meetings, several community members have expressed concerns about low speed electric vehicles.
What is a LSV?
Low speed electric vehicles (LSVs) look like a golf cart, but exceed golf cart speeds, and are therefore treated like an automobile. They must be registered with the DMV, riders must wear seatbelts and drivers are required to abide by all traffic laws, making them subject to citations by police. LSVs are required by law to attain a speed of 20-25 mph within a mile and they are only permitted on roads having speed limits of 35 mph or less. They are not permitted on leisure trails or golf paths.
Low speed electric vehicles (LSVs) are not restricted on Kiawah. Property owners may own them (if they are registered and have a decal) and they are currently available to rent.
What are the issues with LSVs that members have presented?
The issues several property owners have cited are that LSVs can hold up traffic and that rules aren’t always followed, raising safety concerns. Attention has been primarily focused on LSV renters, who may have less familiarity with the laws and rules.
How does KICA’s board plan to address the LSV issues?
Since the issues presented primarily lie with renters, the board contacted the LSV rental company, Lightning Bugz Rentals, who developed a pilot program which will allow KICA to limit the number of rental LSVs on the island and monitor their use. Beginning in May a maximum of 12 rented LSVs will be permitted on Kiawah. All LSVs will be equipped with a GPS to track their use and location, which will be monitored by KICA Security.
To educate renters about the rules, Lightning Bugz Rentals requires sign-off on the rules at registration, again at pick-up and the rules are posted within each LSV.
This pilot program is anticipated to run through the end of the year, after which the board will evaluate the impact of LSVs.
A call for members to act.
If you see a driver in a Lightning Bugz LSV breaking the rules, contact email@example.com or 843-768-5566 to report the violation, so that KICA’s board will have a thorough understanding of LSVs’ effect on community life.
On Tuesday, May 7, Kiawah Cares launched a six-week fundraiser to provide the financial fuel for beneficial educational and student support programs to thrive. Learn about this plan to support our Sea Islands students and how you can help here.
It’s hard to imagine a trip to the island without seeing wildlife — a blue heron, a yellow-bellied slider or an alligator. Maybe a bobcat, if you’re really lucky. Kiawah’s wildlife is part of what makes the island so special. In this issue of Digest, learn to be alligator aware during their mating season and learn to keep sea turtles safe during nesting season.
Take part in a Southern tradition by signing up for a shuttle trip to a Charleston church tea room. Sample ham biscuits, pimento cheese and don’t miss the Huguenot torte. Shuttle trips are May 1-3, with KICA COO Jimmy Bailey attending on Thursday, May 2.