From The Blog
Member Feedback Key to Amenities Plan
By now most members know that the board recently voted to recommend an amenity improvement plan to the community that includes an upgraded pool and beach experience at the Sandcastle, and a new facility at Rhett’s Bluff. This recommendation is many years in the making, and while the final plan details are being developed by our architecture teams, we wanted to look back at the process of how we got here. After years of study and feedback, we truly have a plan representative of what the community has said it’s interested in having. It’s not my plan, the board’s plan, or any other individual’s plan: It’s the community’s plan.
Last May, we held a series of community meetings to unveil an “Approach for Improving Amenities & Services.” The meetings were a precursor to mailing a comprehensive 21 page booklet containing a variety of options for the community to consider. Included with the booklet was a survey for members to indicate their specific preferences and willingness to pay.
The survey results gave clear guidance on the community’s priorities. There commendation that the community will consider this spring will not include plan elements that weren’t supported by the membership, that is, an indoor pool or spa facilities.
During the process of receiving feedback, we heard several specific concerns about the potential projects. Those we heard most often were as follows:
Traffic: Residents near both facilities expressed concern that expanding or adding new amenities would congest roads and impact safety of pedestrians.
• Size of Rhett’s Bluff Facility: Members expressed concern that the facility at Rhett’s Bluff was too large.
• Environment: Members expressed concern that amenity development would harm the environment and diminish habitat.
• Cost: members expressed concern that additional assessments could be a financial burden
• Boat Ramp Location: Members were concerned that relocating the ramp at Rhett’s Bluff could negatively impact the boating experience.
• Legal: Some members questioned the association’s legal right to use its Rhett’s Bluff property.
Over the past few months, we’ve evaluated these concerns and employed a thoughtful approach to addressing them.
1.Traffic: We engaged Toole Design Group (TDG), a nationally recognized team of experts in the area of multi-modal transportation. TDG focuses on traditional vehicular traffic planning as well as a specifically on pedestrian connectivity. Given the importance of our trail system, this area of expertise was particularly important. TDG field work included collection of actual traffic data, analyzed actual volume from both gates, reviewed historical gate data, scaled traffic volumes for high and low seasons, and made adjustments for new facilities. They concluded that even during peak season and with new facilities, our traffic volumes would not create negative impacts and would represent a small fraction of the existing road capacities. They also opined that the causeway to Rhett’s Bluff was sufficiently wide to add pedestrian connectivity.
2. Size: Early potential plans for Rhett’s Bluff totaled close to 27,000square feet and included space for an indoor pool and spa. With the elimination of the indoor pool and spa, as well as shrinking the overall program, we estimate the proposed facility will be approximately half the size of what was originally considered.
3. Environment: We engaged Folk Land Management (FLM) to evaluate both sites and advise us of any environmental concerns posed by adding or expanding facilities. Their work revealed several important environmental considerations which are now part of our planning. At the Sandcastle, zoning requires an oceanside setback of 25 feet. However, we’ll honor a setback close to two times what is required. This will be done to maintain connectivity within the KICA-owned 10 mile strip of dunes, preserving continuous travel patterns for deer, bobcat, and other species. Additionally, we’ll preserve a significant dune structure and emerging maritime forest on the western edge of the property. Not only does this feature provide important wildlife habitat, it serves as a good buffer between the Sandcastle and neighboring villas. At Rhett’s Bluff, FLM identified important native vegetation along the riverbank, and a number of trees on the site that can be relocated rather than removed. Both recommendations will be incorporated into our planning.
4.Cost: We have always said that every member will have to determine for themselves whether the plan is affordable. However, the proposal will be within the price tolerance expressed in last summer’s survey.
5.Boat Ramp Location: We have directed our architectural team to propose a solution that preserves the existing location of the ramp.
6.Legal: We previously received two legal opinions affirming KICA’s position that the proposed improvements could be located at Rhett’s Bluff. KICA sought a third opinion in the fall of 2014, from Marvin Infinger, which strengthened the earlier opinions.
In conclusion, this process has been deliberative and years in the making. We have made an earnest attempt to respond to feedback at every step in the process, and we’ve tried to thoughtfully and appropriately address constructive objections. At the end of the day, the membership’s vote will decide, as it should. We look forward to sharing our progress as we move closer to a vote later this year.
KICA Chief Operating Officer