KICA’s monthly newsletter dives into in-depth looks at island topic. Check out the articles below or read August’s issue of Kiawah Island Digest.
Kiawah’s bobcats have always been elusive. Now they’re starting to disappear. In a blow to the island’s many bobcat lovers, as well as its ecosystem, biologists now estimate that fewer than ten bobcats remain on Kiawah, down from a historic population of 30-35. Find out how you can act to help save the bobcats on Kiawah.
Did you know that there are at least 61 different types of mosquitoes in South Carolina? Thankfully, KICA’s Lakes Management team is made up of biologists who tailor their approach to mosquito abatement to suit the island’s conditions. Matt Hill, Lakes Management supervisor, points out that “pest management is always a delicate balance between human comfort and environmental responsibility.”
At KICA’s July 13 Board of Directors meeting, treasurer Dave Morley gave a report on the financial status of the association. KICA always provides monthly financial reports to members but in this case, it’s important to highlight how the association is performing in this unusual year. Dave’s report looked at KICA’s finances through the end of May 2020 in comparison to the annual budget.
As part of the island’s emergency management plan, KICA and the Town of Kiawah Island issue joint emergency communications to members.
Tropical Storm Isaias is forecast to regain hurricane strength later today and make landfall as a Category 1 near Georgetown, South Carolina.
Kiawah Island remains under a tropical storm warning and storm surge warning. Our community may experience sustained wind speeds of 45-55 mph with gusts up to 70 mph, excessive rainfall (3-6 inches), isolated tornado threats, flooding, dangerous storm surge, and minor erosion.
Conditions are expected to continue to deteriorate this afternoon with substantial impact occurring tonight.
As a result, power outages and falling trees and large debris are possible. If storm surge levels threaten Berkeley Electric‘s equipment on the island, a preemptive power shutoff could occur.
Flooding will likely occur tonight during high tide, which is at 9:13 p.m. Dangerous surf and rip currents are already present and expected to continue through this week. Stay out of the water. In tropical storm conditions, even knee-deep water contains strong currents and can quickly become dangerous. Beach Patrol will retract its staff during the storm.
The community association has reduced pond levels to increase drainage capacity in preparation for the storm. KICA facilities closed at noon today, with the exception of the security gates. Contractor gate access for tomorrow has been delayed until 10 a.m.
The town’s damage assessment team will begin at 6 a.m. to perform a windshield survey of the island. This survey does not take into account damage to property not seen from the road.
The Municipal Center closed at 1 p.m. today and will resume regular hours tomorrow (8 a.m – 5 p.m.). Tuesday’s trash collection will operate on a delay and will not begin until 10 a.m.
The Sandcastle is currently planned to reopen for the 11:30 a.m. pool session on Tuesday, Aug. 4, pending cleanup.
Beachwalker County Park closed at 2 p.m. today.
Freshfields Village merchants may have modified hours.
Residents should wrap up their personal preparations and plan to shelter in place. Please make sure all trash cans are secure. Remember, in an emergency, dial 9-1-1, not the main gate. The Town of Kiawah Island, Kiawah Island Community Association, and Charleston County Emergency Management officials continue to monitor Tropical Storm Isaias and prepare for potential impacts.
Property owners and managers with rental guests should forward the information above to their guests.
In September 2018, a subcommittee of the Town of Kiawah Island’s Environmental Committee submitted a report to the Town Council. This report, Flood Mitigation and Sea Level Rise Adaptation for Kiawah Island, SC, was the result of 18 months of study and provided over a hundred recommendations for how the island could respond to the challenges of sea level rise and climate change. Both the town and the Kiawah Island Community Association (KICA) responded positively to the report and undertook a variety of proactive actions in response to the recommendations.
A key recommendation in the report was the implementation of an Adaptive Management Plan (AMP) to monitor conditions on Kiawah that may require intervention. KICA has established a task force, with endorsement by the town, to guide the initial phase of development of this plan. The goal for this first phase is to identify conditions that property owners find undesirable or unacceptable as a result of flooding induced by continuing sea level rise, as well as the environmental consequences of increasing periods of drought broken by periods of intense rainfall. These conditions, or “thresholds,” are situations that we never want to reach. The total AMP Plan will include “trigger points,” warnings that actions are needed to avoid a threshold breach; a monitoring program that will follow “indicators” related to the trigger points; and a “response plan” to either prevent the threshold from being reached or take actions to adapt to that threshold. Additional information on these terms and processes will be provided as the AMP is developed.
The development of the AMP is likely to take about a year, with the first step being the identification of “thresholds.” Thresholds will be established by considering impacts on public infrastructure, private property and the island’s environment. Since thresholds are primarily value judgments, their identification needs to reflect the diversity of community values. In order to reflect the values of the Kiawah community, the task force is planning for two opportunities for community input in this initial phase of the AMP development: virtual focus group meetings and a community survey. While face-to-face feedback is preferred, the COVID-19 outbreak limits our opportunities for face-to-face community input.
For the virtual focus groups, the AMP Task Force is seeking to put together small groups of property owners representing full-time or part-time residents with diversity of geographical location on the island, type of housing, and property usage. The participants are expected to contribute about five hours of time to read preparatory materials and participate in the virtual meeting with other property owners to help develop threshold statements. The virtual meetings will be held during the month of August. These threshold statements will then be used to develop a community survey that will be distributed to property owners and interested Kiawah parties to gain a consensus on the key thresholds that are of concern. The results will be presented to the Town Council and the KICA Board of Directors in November 2020.
If you are interested in learning more about participating in the virtual focus groups, please contact task force chair and KICA resilience specialist Lucas Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org by July 31. Decisions about participation will be made to ensure a diverse representation of the Kiawah community. In your email please include the following information:
Thanks for your interest in this important initiative on behalf of Kiawah Island.
Sent on behalf of the AMP Task Force,
Lucas Hernandez, Chair
We regret to inform you that a Kiawah Island Community Association security employee who last worked on July 17 has tested positive for COVID-19. This employee followed precautionary procedures at work, wearing the required face mask and using hand sanitizer. This employee was asymptomatic, and was tested for COVID-19 as part of routine testing ordered by his doctor on Thursday, July 16. On Friday, July 17, the employee received the positive COVID-19 test result. The employee was immediately sent home. The employee worked July 11-13 and July 17, as a gate officer. The employee last worked patrol on July 12, but had no direct contact with people, while on patrol. KICA has continued to follow its protocol on contract tracing, cleaning, and other preventive measures.
Based on CDC guidelines, KICA’s contact tracing procedure identifies any person who the employee came in contact with in the previous two days for fifteen minutes or more. This employee did not come in contact with any member or island guest for this duration, and coworkers have been notified.
This notification is a reminder that the virus is present on Kiawah, and that association services may be impacted as we face the increasing challenge of maintaining staff.
We ask that everyone in the community remain vigilant about social distancing and wearing the town-mandated face coverings. These actions have proven to be the most effective defenses against the virus.
KICA Director of Operations
At its July 13 meeting, the Kiawah Island Community Association Board of Directors opened discussion of electric bicycle use on Kiawah Island. In summary, KICA currently prohibits the use of all motorized bicycles on the island, but several community members have expressed interest in allowing some electric bicycles. The primary argument for e-bikes is that they have a pedal-assist feature which enables a more enjoyable ride for the older demographic. However, there are concerns that these e-bikes are able to reach speeds that could present safety issues on the leisure trails. Director David DeStefano proposed some potential guidelines for the community to consider and provide their feedback to the board.
DeStefano suggested that KICA amends its rules to permit the use of Class 1 electric bicycles, with some restrictions. Class 1 e-bikes will engage an electric motor when the rider is pedaling. These bikes can achieve a max speed of 20 mph. Class 2 bicycles have a throttle in addition to pedal-assist and Class 3 bicycles can achieve 28 mph, so these two types would be prohibited. To address the speed concern, DeStefano suggested restricting the Class 1 e-bikes to those with a maximum of 250 watt motor and implementing an age minimum. Only KICA members would be authorized to use e-bikes, and they would be required to register with the association. No e-bike rentals would be allowed. To enable enforcement, the e-bikes must display the KICA registration decal, and Class 1 must be clearly marked on the bike.
Thank you to those who provided comments on this topic at the July board meeting. If you’d like to provide your feedback to the board, email email@example.com.
At the Kiawah Island Community Association’s annual meeting in March, board chair Diana Mezzanotte announced the creation of a task force to review the purpose and process of the Nominating Committee. Diana noted that after considerable community feedback from recent board elections, the task force would conduct its review with the instruction that the Nominating Committee would no longer endorse board candidates.
Director Brad McIlvain led the task force, with the participation of director Sue Schaffer and developer-director Townsend Clarkson. At the July 13 public board meeting, Mr. McIlvain presented the task force’s recommendations, which were approved and accepted by the board.
To clarify the objectives of the committee, which no longer include endorsing candidates, the committee has been renamed the Board Outreach and Education Committee. The committee will continue to provide community members with information about board service and host an informational session, answering any questions from potential candidates before the fall registration deadline.
The committee will continue to gather and share full candidate statements and video interviews and will host a forum for community members to meet and hear directly from the candidates. Going forward, all of these things will take place before the board election voting opens.
After much consideration, the task force recommended that the committee not vet candidates because it raises a host of issues, including confidentiality and defamation. However, the committee will ask every registered candidate if they have been convicted of a felony within the last ten years, and this question and answer will be provided to members.
The Outreach and Education Committee will be chaired by a current director, this year Sue Schaffer, and include four community members: two former board directors and two members who have not served on the KICA Board of Directors. In this new format, the committee retains the expertise of directors who can answer candidate questions about board service, yet also involves members who have not participated on the board, ensuring that the recruitment of candidates extends beyond the board’s circle of acquaintance. Committee members will serve staggered two-year terms.
The committee’s revised charter is available to view here. If you are interested in participating on the Outreach and Education Committee, please apply here. The committee will be appointed by mid August.
In this issue, get to know KICA’s new director of Finance and Administration. Johnny Wallace comes to KICA from Porter-Gaud School. Say farewell to Jane Ovenden and learn about the changes she put into place while acting as KICA’s previous director of Finance and Administration.
Fawn season is here in the Lowcounty — how to tell if a fawn is acting normally even if it’s alone. Get your workout with the instructors at The Sandcastle and more in this month’s issue of Kiawah Island Digest.
This month, KICA’s flood mitigation efforts commence. Construction will begin on a new outfall at an existing inlet off of the Kiawah Island Parkway, across from the fire station. This new outfall will relieve the Beachwalker drainage system, providing the western half of the island with a secondary outlet for water to drain. Off of Governors Drive, near Trumpet Creeper Lane, a drainage inlet filled with sediment will be dredged. This will revive the channel so that water flows away from the island, as intended.
Cru Catering, KICA’s partner operator of the Castle Grille and Sandbar, has decided to close food and beverage operations at The Sandcastle for the coming week. An employee in the wider catering company has tested positive for COVID-19 and this employee has interacted with some Castle Grille employees at the base facility in North Charleston. Out of an abundance of caution, Cru immediately shut down all operations for the week, including the Castle Grille and Sandbar. KICA will update the community when a reopening is determined.
We thank Cru Catering for immediately notifying us and for making the tough decision to impact their business by closing, for the protection of our members and their staff. We look forward to Cru’s future return.
In the meantime, please feel free to bring your own food and drinks to enjoy at the pool. As a reminder, state regulations prohibit the use of glass at the pool. The Sandcastle continues to sanitize all pool lounge chairs and restrooms in between each pool session.
Pool reservations may be made online at kica.us/sandcastle. Today, a fourth pool session was added, opening over 360 daily reservations. Please adhere to one reservation per household per day, so that your neighbors also have the chance to enjoy the pool amenities.
Our island’s leisure trails were made for recreational pursuits like biking, jogging and walking. For their safety, remind your family and visitors to stay off of the roads when trails are available. Trails follow parallel to the island’s busiest roads, the Kiawah Island Parkway, Governors Drive and Ocean Course Drive, and many side streets, so please be sure to utilize them.
As traffic on the island swells in the summer, this is especially important. Remember to obey the traffic signs on both the leisure trails and the roads, and use extra caution at traffic intersection points.
Personal transportation vehicles like motorcycles, mopeds, Segways, motorized scooters, motorized skateboards, hoverboards, motorized bicycles and similar motorized vehicles are not permitted on Kiawah’s roads or leisure trails. (See Section 2 of KICA’s Rules and Regulations.)