Archive for June 2012

June 16th P&C letter to the editor from JACK SIMMONS: Chairman, Committee to Save the City

Two studies, one fix: Regulate cruises, P&C, June 16, 2012.

While it is refreshing that continued attention is being given to the impact of cruise ships on Charleston’s ambiance, it is also ironic that the conclusions of Miley and Associates (commissioned study by The Historic Charleston Foundation) are essentially the same as those of the Cruise Ship Task Force appointed by Mayor Joe Riley in 2003 and hosted by the Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF).

I served on that committee and while residents fought “tooth and nail” with proponents of the cruise industry, we were all able to agree on the following points:

 

» Establish a cruise ship advisory council of residents and industry leaders to monitor and make regulatory recommendations. We strongly agreed on the need for enforceable regulations.

» Limit commercial passenger vessels (250 or more) to the existing South Carolina Ports Authority cruise ship facility, thus, in effect, limiting the number of such ships to no more than one a day. We felt that even this daily number could overwhelm the residential quality of life, so there was a recommendation to focus marketing on the smaller luxury segment. The current proposal to build a larger cruise ship terminal opens the door to multiple larger vessels overtaxing our environment.

» Expand the noise ordinance to include cruise ships.

»Charge an additional $2 passenger city tax to help offset costs of cruise ship traffic management downtown  (Cruise Ship Task Force Final Draft 2003).

Kudos to HCF for not sweeping this under the rug.  Perhaps it is finally time for the mayor, City Council, and the State Ports Authority to listen to the residents who are so directly affected. Instituting the recommendations of 2003 would have saved us all much weeping, wailing and angst, as well as cracked teeth.

“The Future isn’t what it used to be”- expanded version by Jay Williams

“The Future isn’t what it used to be”- expanded version
People around town ask me questions similar to this–“I read a lot about the cruise ship terminal controversy, but what is the right answer?” Or, “I’m not against cruise ships, but should they be right downtown?”
Make no mistake, getting on the right side of this issue is critical to Charleston’s future. These two articles from the latest Charleston Mercury may help you decide things for yourself. Grab your copy of the paper if you have it, buy it on the newsstand, or keep reading here.
The first article is a guest editorial written by me. The second is the newspaper’s own lead editorial. I urge you to read both…
–Jay Williams, Jr.
 

The future isn’t what it used to be

Guest Editorial
By Jay Williams, Jr.
Published: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 3:28 PM EDT
Mayor Joseph Riley and supporters of an unregulated cruise ship terminal at Union Pier advanced their key arguments during a hearing conducted last month by the federal Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.

The “we-know-better” argument went like this: “I was born in Charleston, my family has worked on the docks for years … and you got here late.” Or, “This has been a maritime city for 300 years…” This argument would be terrific if the maritime traffic and the ships were remotely the same as 300 years ago. Or even 30 years ago. But ships today don’t look like the Spirit of South Carolina. And, cruise ships have nothing in common with cargo shipping except that both ships float.

Cruise ships have thousands of passengers who must be accommodated and managed; cargo ships don’t.

(please continue reading here): http://charlestonmercury.com/articles/2012/05/16/opinion/editorials/doc4fb3f4bc3d1d9735621349.txt

Cruise ships and putting lipstick on pigs

Published (online):
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 3:28 PM EDT
The cruise ship debate continues with vigor, and we welcome the opportunity to connect some dots and stress the importance of the site of the new terminal. However, we scratch our heads when we read about “cruise ship opponents” in various local media. Those concerned about the cruise ships come at the issue from many different and valid perspectives. They are not “opponents”; rather, they are “critics” and are not monolithic. Many want cruise ships, but under varying circumstances. This is not an “either/or” issue for most citizens.
(please continue reading this editorial here): http://charlestonmercury.com/articles/2012/05/16/opinion/editorials/doc4fb3f58750c6d609423721.txt

Move terminal- a letter by Joan H. Hazelton, Limehouse Street 29401

A recent letter acknowledged one important fact: the need to regulate cruise ships. The writer added that even the Fantasy, one of Carnival’s smallest ships, “is grossly out of scale with Charleston” and “overwhelms the skyline.”

The letter writer wondered if the conversation would “be the same if it weren’t Carnival Cruise Lines.” Yes. For the same reasons the writer gave.

These ships are grossly out of scale with Charleston’s colonial-era skyline. These ships are too close to the center city, and there is no regulation on their size or number, or on their noise, soot, traffic or other impacts.

Cruise ships, regardless of what name is stenciled on the side, don’t belong downtown. In major historic cities like Boston and Philadelphia, cruise terminals are located at their old Navy Yards, away from downtown and the historic districts.

Many people don’t understand that cruisers boarding “home-ported” ships like the “Fantasy” spend little money in Charleston because they aren’t visiting Charleston. They are taking their vacation in the Caribbean.

The reason that traditional and heritage tourists outspend them 10-to-1 is not because they’re going on a budget cruise line, it’s because they are going on a pre-paid cruise and are not here to tour and stay in Charleston.

Vacationers at every income level are always welcome in Charleston. But no small city downtown, especially a charming, historic city like Charleston, should damage its attractiveness and historic fabric by building a $35 million airport-equivalent cruise terminal for people who are merely parking here so they can go and vacation elsewhere. That’s why the Columbus Street Terminal near the Ravenel Bridge or the Veteran’s Terminal near the old Navy yard, conveniently located near major highways, would be far better choices for a cruise terminal.

Charleston’s small size has barely enough space for tourists who want to visit Charleston. What is at risk is that those tourists (and residents) who do spend money here, and don’t sail elsewhere, will have their Charleston experience spoiled.

If you only knew: a letter by Bruce Smith, George Street 29401

All these people who don’t live downtown continually write the paper citing economic benefits of the cruise industry. I want them to listen to me:

No one, not a single person, has proposed abolishing this industry from Charleston. It is only the impact of said industry that has people’s feathers ruffled; and rightly so, as they are the most impacted by this issue.

Imagine the circus comes to your community with all its paraphernalia, and thousands descend upon your village square for the entire day. Yes, there is an economic benefit for your community.

Now imagine that the same circus decamps at the end of the day, then returns five days later week after week and month after month.

I am positive that it would wear on you, then wear you down, then raise your ire to the point you would regret the sacrifice you made to your quality of life in the name “Circuses are Good for Our Town and Beneficial for Our Shop Owners.”

Come on folks, there is an impact even if you don’t feel it. We feel it every five days.

Move the terminal. It is the right thing to do.

 

 

Dismiss lawsuit against Carnival? That’s a fantasy- a Post &Courier editorial

Dismiss lawsuit against Carnival? That’s a fantasy, P&C, June 3, 2012, Editorial. 

 

For months Charleston Communities for Cruise Control (C4) has been asking Carnival Cruiselines questions and getting silence in response.

Soon the silence should be broken because it will be a judge asking the questions in relation to to a lawsuit pending against Carnival.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, neighbors, preservationists and environmentalists, contend that Carnival isn’t in compliance with local zoning ordinances.

Defendants, including the city of Charleston, which attached itself as a defendant, have said the suit is irresponsible and certain to be dismissed.

It wasn’t. The Supreme Court has referred the pending motion to dismiss and related filings and hearings to Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman for handling and recommendations.

That means parties to the suit will have the opportunity to argue the motion before a trial judge.

C4, whose mission is to see that enforceable restrictions on Charleston’s cruise industry are enacted, first communicated with Carnival via a letter dated Jan. 5. Executive director Carrie Agnew asked Gerry Cahill, president and chief executive officer of Carnival Cruise Lines in Miami, a number of questions, and made suggestions about the size of ships that come here, and the frequency of their visits. C4 asked about discharge, air emissions, amplified announcements, user fees, and local purchasing.

No reply.
So Mrs. Agnew tried again. Her letter of Feb. 10 to Mr. Cahill asked again for a response, and asked Carnival to support an independent study to determine the best site for a new cruise terminal. (C4 thinks the terminal would be better located north of the site selected by the S.C. State Ports Authority.)

No reply.
Since then, she reports having written SPA executive director Jim Newsome, various elected city officials, the members of the SPA board, and Debra Kelly-Ennis, Carnival’s newest director and a member of its Health and Environmental, Safety and Security Committee — all with questions and none drawing a response.

The one response she received was from Sir John Parker, a Carnival director and chairman of its Health and Environmental, Safety and Security Committee. His two paragraphs thanked her for her letter and assured Mrs. Agnew that Carnival is “fully aware” of the issues she described and is “in close touch also with the City and State, who are supportive of Carnival’s operations out of Charleston.”

That left Mrs. Agnew to note that, while Carnival has been in touch with the city and state, it has not been in touch with Historic Charleston Foundation, the Preservation Society of Charleston, Charlestowne Neighborhood Association, Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, the Coastal Conservation League, the Committee to Save the City, the South Carolina Medical Association, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the World Monuments Fund or Charleston Communities for Cruise Control — all of which have called for restrictions on or standards for cruise operations here.

Ironically, in its 2009 Sustainability Report, which is posted online, Carnival describes itself as being “committed to doing our best to be a good corporate citizen. To us, that means treating our employees right, being kinder to the environment and giving back to the communities we serve.”

But apparently, it doesn’t always mean answering questions raised in those communities.

Maybe some answers will now be forthcoming — in Charleston, at any rate — as the Carnival case cruises toward a date in court.

The community deserves a response.

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: Judge Appointed in Charleston Lawsuit vs. Carnival Cruise Lines

Charleston, SC: Late last week, the South Carolina State Supreme Court appointed a judge to review the S.C. State Port Authority, City of Charleston and Carnival Cruise Lines “Motion to Dismiss” the lawsuit filed last June by the S.C. Coastal Conservation League, Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, Charlestowne Neighborhood Association and the Preservation Society of Charleston against Carnival Cruise Lines, the most frequent violator of existing local ordinances.

This step is viewed by the plaintiffs as a welcome development….they believe that the SPA, City and Carnival probably wanted the State Supreme Court to simply dismiss the case out of hand. Instead, there will be an actual hearing at which time the judge will hear arguments and review all the pertinent documentation that has been filed.

Once the review is completed, the judge will make a recommendation to the Supreme Court which they will take under advisement. The judge is well respected and a fair hearing is anticipated.

 
NOTE: While not affiliated in any way with this lawsuit, Charleston Communities for Cruise Control does agree with the premise that existing local ordinances should be adhered to by the cruise ship industry. C4 also calls for regulation of how the industry operates in Charleston are needed in order to protect the delicate balance between tourism, residential and everyday life for those who live and work in the area.

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