Mr. Arnold W. Donald
3655 N.W. 87th Avenue
Miami, FL 33178-2428
Dear Mr. Donald:
The location of a new cruise ship terminal in Charleston has been the subject of controversy since first proposed by the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SPA) over five years ago.
The proposed site at Union Pier in downtown Charleston is directly adjacent to the historic district and historic neighborhoods.
In September 2013 the necessary federal permit was revoked by a federal judge for failure of the Corps of Engineers to conduct required historical and environmental impact studies.
The SPA has yet to re-file for the required permit.
Earlier this month the Charleston Planning Commission, the official body that reviews projects from a sound city planning perspective, voted 8-1 to recommend an alternative location for any new cruise ship terminal. The Chairman, appointed by the Mayor, expressed the view that a cruise ship terminal hosting 10-15 deck cruise ships and bringing 1000+ cars to and from downtown inappropriate at Union Pier. This position is shared by a large number of residents and civic organizations.
Our organization, residents and civic organizations do not oppose cruise ships generally, but do share the belief that Union Pier is not an appropriate site to host large cruise ships. We all strongly believe these ships are out of scale with the area, bringing extra traffic to an already congested area and bringing air emissions in the absence of shore power.
We point to other port cities, such as Boston, Miami, St. Lauderdale, San Diego and Brooklyn as examples where the terminals are located outside residential or historic districts.
Now Carnival has added a second larger cruise ship, the Sunshine, to operate out of Charleston along with The Fantasy. We request that you indicate your willingness to work with the City, the SPA and community organizations to explore an alternative terminal location and to use shore power if facilities are made available.
We wonder if the SPA may believe that Carnival is unalterably opposed to an alternate location and unalterably opposed to outfitting ships visiting Charleston with shore power capability? We hope this is not the case. In fact, we note that in Carnival’s own sustainability reports that you are sensitive to historic and environmentally delicate areas. Likewise, Carnival stated that it believes shore power represents the future for what is used at port cities.
The Charleston historic district is a sensitive small urban area that can easily be swamped by the scale and passenger capacity of modern cruise ships. Civic groups including The Preservation Society of Charleston, Historic Charleston Foundation and National Trust for Historic Preservation are working diligently to avoid changing the nature of a district so important from an historic preservation and quality of life perspective.
We note that Disney ultimately decided not to build a theme park near Manassas and Wal-Mart did not build near another Civil War landmark, The Wilderness.
We hope Carnival will demonstrate that same corporate responsibility and use its influence and customer status to avoid large cruise ships docking at the historic district in downtown Charleston.
We look forward to receiving your response.
Executive Director; C4
cc: Mr. Gerry Cahill, CEO Carnival Cruise Lines