Cruise ships, bars, bathrooms dominate public forum on Charleston tourism

Whether or not Charleston’s tourism industry is at a “tipping point” and which areas of the industry are causing it were the central topics Thursday night at the Tourism Advisory Council’s public forum.

Many who lined up to offer their input rejected the city’s notion that the number of bars on upper King Street and Market Street had brimmed over their limit.

Jamie Price, a local developer who helped establish the monthly Second Sunday on King Street event, opposed the city’s proposed ordinance that would require future bars and restaurants in entertainment districts to close at midnight.

“This is a European-type city with a phenomenal night life,” Price said. “This is not what this city is about. This city is about life, and that’s what they’re taking away.”

Seaton Brown, an admissions counselor at the College of Charleston, said if patrons have to leave a bar before midnight “they won’t want to go home, they’ll want to go to the bars that are open until 2 a.m., which adds to the traffic and mobility problems that King Street is already suffering from.”

City Planner Tim Keane said that the growth of bars are stifling retailers on Upper King and that neighborhoods nearby need retail.

Other residents at the meeting said the “tipping point” of the tourism problems was on the other side of town.

Robert Ball, a physician and professor at C of C, said the biggest concern was the amount of soot emitted from cruise ships idling at the terminal.

“We are at a tipping point. We need to take action on … shore power for cruise ships,” he said. “I would urge the city to partner with SPA and Carnival to enact whatever you need to … to transform a line along the front of Union Pier where cruise ships will be docked to reduce health risks to our residents on the East side.”

Carrie Agnew, a resident of Legare Street who has long been an advocate for cruise ship regulations, went a step further and questioned whether a larger cruise ship terminal should be built at the edge of the peninsula’s historic district.

“This city has tipped over,” she said. “I do not see how we could have a terminal that is twice the size of what we have now with twice the number of parking spaces and not have a lot more problems with tourism. Why is it being placed directly next to a historic neighborhood?”

Keane and Riley also got an earful, not for the first time, about the need for more bike corrals along heavily trafficked streets, and more public bathrooms.

Alfred Ray, a longtime tour guide, said visitors often need bathroom breaks while touring historic areas such as White Point Gardens, and suggested that the private bathrooms at Hazel Parker Playground on East Bay Street be opened to the public.

“We have a public facility paid for with public money which has private bathrooms. Is that even legal?” Ray said.

Keane said Thursday’s forum was the final “input-gathering session” of the Tourism Advisory Council’s process to update the city’s Tourism Management Plan. The council has also received feedback from the downtown neighborhood associations and it has conducted surveys about residential concerns with tourism.

Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906

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Managing Tourism and more: Let’s connect the dots.

Inauspicious.  That summarizes the first Charleston Tourism Committee Forum, held April 7th in crowded meeting room at 75 Calhoun.  Instead of a forum, citizens were relegated to asking questions on 3×5 cards.  Then, rather than listen to citizen input, one city official chose to pontificate, giving his opinion as fact, declaring that there should be public restrooms near White Point Gardens “because people down there want them,” and that the cruise terminal won’t be moved up to the Columbus Street Terminal, “because it’s the most important cargo terminal in South Carolina.”

To this observer, the first question read from a submitted card was brilliant:  “Given the overbalance of committee members who are either directly involved with tourism or who profit from it,” what assurance can we have that the real tourism issues downtown and in the historic district will be addressed?   No reason to bore you with the non-answer response.

But there is hope that at TONIGHT’S MEETING at the Charleston Museum, the Tourism Committee will actually let the public speak and that City officials might listen. (1)

Why?   First, there was a follow up Committee meeting on May 29th at the Historic Charleston Foundation.   And prior to that meeting, many residents expressed their dissatisfaction of that first meeting to both committee members and city officials.  Secondly, Steve Gates, chairman of the Charlestowne Neighborhood Assn., prepared a cogent 12-page statement of tourism concerns complete with specific recommendations; it appears to be an excellent blueprint.(2)  Thirdly, the committee members, including good new members who have recently been added, appear to be taking their tasks seriously.   And fourth, then came April-May, 2014–perhaps the two most horrible months in history for living in Charleston, a time when even the most oblivious realized that we’ve stepped beyond the “tourism tipping point.”  As the 5-million tourists-per-year threshold may be breached this year, some finally asked the right question:  What is Charleston’s “tourist carrying capacity”?

Yes, there are those who still don’t see the potential catastrophe of rampant tourism.   Only yesterday in the Post and Courier, a letter-writer was near apoplectic that the newspaper editorial board wanted to “‘lighten the tourism load'” as that would surely cause “a major reduction in tourism dollars, resulting in jobs lost and businesses struggling.”(3)   This should be called “reverse NIMBYism.”   The letter writer was from…North Charleston.

That May 29th meeting may have market a turning point for another reason.  Mayor Joseph Riley announced several tourism initiatives on-the-spot, asserting that these problems were so obvious that there was no need to wait for a final report to take action.  He pledged to put three new tourism enforcement officials on-the-street under the supervision of the Livability Officer.  He pledged to continue the moratorium prohibiting any new special events for the peninsula, he said the city would crack down on short-term rentals, and he would ask the city council to end the sale of liquor at midnight for new establishments.  This blog isn’t often complimentary of the mayor, but these were welcome and needed actions.

Yet there’s a large concern beyond tourism that will negatively impact the value and quality of life in Charleston.  It’s equal to the scourge of the proposed, ill-sited cruise terminal bereft of any meaningful restrictions on growth.  It’s large-scale development.  The recently scotched proposal for a new Sergeant Jasper complex is an ominous case-in-point.  That proposal (as presented to several neighborhood associations this spring) called for three large-scale buildings set on three parcels at the west end of Broad Street between the city tennis courts and Lockwood Blvd, and it included plans for a 70,000 sq. ft. office building on the now-vacant St. Mary’s field.  Then to accommodate thousands of square feet of new apartment units, the developers planned a four-story, 700-car parking facility in addition to retail spaces on both Barre and Broad Streets near the center of this huge complex.(4)  The traffic impact on this already-congested corner could be immense.  Right now–not a week or month later–is the time for the city to toughen the requirements for all new large-scale projects that seemingly get approved without adequate parking (or enforcing existing regulations), without adequate open public space, and without any requirement to conduct a truly comprehensive traffic study that considers all existing and potential traffic impacts, not just whatever traffic is added by a new project.

A new Sergeant Jasper project proposal will likely be revealed at any moment.  Will the city ensure us that, before any approval, the proposal will comport with the small scale architecture and historic ambiance of the surrounding neighborhoods and that the traffic impacts will be significantly reduced from the original?

Tourism grew out of control, in part, because five different commissions are involved in promoting, permitting and policing it.   No one, it seems, was managing the big picture.  While it appears that we’re finally focused on the rapidly growing impacts of tourism, and let’s hope we are, there are other big threats.  Let’s study all of them.  Let’s connect the dots.

# # #

–Jay Williams, Jr.
12 June 14

 

Written by jwilliams
The Charleston Cruise Control Blog, written by Jay Williams, Jr., published periodically since May, 2011, consists of opinions and discussions about cruise ship tourism. Although Jay is involved with various local organizations, the opinions he expresses are solely his; they do not represent the views of any organization or other individual.  Mr. Williams is an independent blogger/writer. We present these blogs for C4 website visitors as an information source and as an additional way to chronologically follow the debates, commentaries and discussions about cruise tourism in Charleston.

footnotes/links

1)  The Tourism Commission meeting will be held tonight, June 12th, 2014, at the Charleston Museum, 360 Meeting Street.  This is an important meeting; please attend!

2)  The CNA board approved tourism recommendations for Charleston.

3)  “Wrong Message,” Letters to the editor, P&C, June 11, 2014
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140611/PC1002/140619915/1025/letters-to-the-editor-for-wednesday-june-11

4)  There is a concise write-up of the Beach Company’s original Sergeant Jasper presentation in the current issue of Preservation Progress, The Preservation Society of Charleston’s magazine.  It is available at the Preservation Society book store at 147 King Street.

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The resident in Charleston has become an endangered species.

To Whom It May Concern:

 

To add to the public record of residents on the issue of tourism and its impact on residential neighborhoods, I would like to make the following statements:

 

As a friend who would like to remain anonymous has so aptly put it to me, “ The resident in Charleston has become an endangered species. As such, they should be afforded the protections due to an endangered species.” I couldn’t agree more.

 

The concept of living a life of quiet enjoyment, not the legally deeded kind but the physical kind, has just simply gone missing in downtown Charleston. At any gathering of residents of the neighborhoods, there is always a review of the latest trespass by tourists or college students. I personally would hate to have to count the number of times my dog has stopped to inspect vomit or I have stepped in it in the Harleston Village area. Livability Court and the willingness to cite violators is the only thing that makes living in a college area a possibility. In other neighborhoods, residents have viewed tourists relieving themselves in their driveways, even on their rose bushes. People have had their doors knocked upon followed by inquiries to use the facilities or view their garden. Are we on display like show animals. If so, I’d like to have the city pay for my costumes. I’m fond of Armani.

 

There are several issues at the top of my list.

1. What possible benefit could be afforded residents by putting a cruise terminal with 900 flat surface parking spaces in the residential neighborhoods. The first thing the city could do to prove that it had an interest in the well-being of the residents would be to get that terminal and its fall-out vehicle congestion, people traffic congestion and parking issues out of the residential areas. It cannot be justified and it is foolishness to not accommodate the people and cars elsewhere and transport those tourists to their destination by public transport. The revenue will still be there, the tourists and their cars won’t be. To not do this indicates to the residents that the city administration just doesn’t care about those of us who have no alternative but to use those streets.

2. Shore power. How can a city that has signs outside of schools stating that you should  not idle your vehicle because students breathe there, allow ships to idle in port with no shore power.

 

These first 2 are no-brainers. There is no justification for having the terminal where it is planned to be. There is no reason to add the burden of poor air-quality to the other congestion related quality-of-life issues currently challenging the peace and quiet of those residing on the Charleston peninsula.

 

Why would anyone take prime real estate and plan a 900 space flat surface parking lot?What a stupid use of tax dollars and space. Wherever you decide to put a 900 space flat surface parking lot in the year 2014, it should at least incorporate solar so that the residents of whatever neighborhood you place it in will have an energy break for their troubles. Other countries have managed this. Why can’t we?

 

If you’re going to put something massive in a space so prominent, why not make it world class…think Sydney Opera House. There is a glorious bridge already in place, a world class facility could be placed where the terminal is slated to be. You could put solar over the parking lot and a park on top of the building. Get out of the box and really go for it if you’re going to mess around with the neighborhoods and put something there that everyone can enjoy, not just a tourist bringing a car down so they can get on a ship and go somewhere else.

3. Could we please have a moratorium on building for the hotels and office buildings over 3 stories that have already been approved until we can adopt a set of guidelines for the next 20 years that isn’t based on the last 20 years. When you put a building up that is over 3 stories, and then you do it again and again and again, you have no idea how much you are limiting the light and the visual vista that create a town that feels manageable rather than a city. Go to Charlotte if you want to see a small city. People do not come to Charleston to experience a small city. They come to enjoy, among other things, a historic city with beautiful architecture. The pitiful nature of the ugly architecture that has risen around the city in the last few years is unforgivable. If you’re going to do something, at least try to get it right. I actually sat through a City Council meeting in which a decision that was being requested for a large building was referred to by the presenter as ‘non-precedent setting’. Please. Think about that.

4. Clearly the silo effect of planning events and tourism has to change. Someone must coordinate it all and make it work for the residents, not just visitors.

5. Try to pay a little attention to the residents of the city and their specific needs. A friend of mine  owns a car that was hit by someone and a witness left a note including a license plate number for the car that did the damage. As of 6 weeks later, and many calls to the police, the issue had not even been investigated. The police were ‘too busy’.  As Giuliani stated so many times as he cleaned up New York, “Its the little things that count.”

6.  Public toilets in residential neighborhoods. When I travel, I plan accordingly and don’t expect there to be a public restroom at my disposal. There could be signs that say that “You are entering a residential neighborhood. There are no public restrooms, plan accordingly.” That doesn’t seem so hard now, does it?

 

Thank you for your time.

 

Leslie Scanlan

 

 

 

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SPA’s terminal ‘victory’ illusory

The State Ports Authority has won another round in court regarding its planned passenger terminal.

But it is losing in the court of credibility with the public by using such legal rulings to avoid doing two things that are clearly the right things to do.

The SPA will not commit to installing shoreside power for cruise ships to use while at dock.

Even Charleston City Council has indicated its concern about air pollution from cruise ships. And both the state and the county medical societies have called for shoreside power on behalf of public health.

Further, the SPA refuses to sign a memorandum of agreement that it will not increase the size or number of cruise-ship calls in Charleston.

SPA president/CEO Jim Newsome has given his word that he won’t grow the cruise business without first informing the city.

Why not an official limit?

Establishing one would defuse a lot of the angst people have about cruise ships and the burdens they put on historic Charleston. Crowding. Noise. Visual insult. And threats to the health of people and to the environment.

And why not agree to shoreside power, which is the present gold standard for reducing air emissions?

Why won’t a state agency do what is best for citizens of that very state?

An agency that considers itself part of Team South Carolina would want healthy neighbors. It would openly discuss where a new terminal should go.

It shouldn’t take a court order for the SPA to do what’s right.

Indeed, while S.C. Administrative Law Judge Ralph Anderson III ruled last Friday against a coalition of neighborhood associations preservation organizations and conservationists challenging the plan for the terminal, he didn’t say their concerns were wrong.

In essence he said that those who filed the suit were no different from others whose health is in jeopardy because of air emissions from cruise ships.

That might make sense to lawyers, but the public is reasonable to ask why the SPA operates in a way that affects so many people negatively.

Further, Judge Anderson said that the law doesn’t apply to what might happen, only what has happened. So to suggest that more and larger cruise ships visiting Charleston would mean more pollution, more crowding and diminished property values is not admissible. It might not happen.

But again the public is reasonable to fear such an increase and the ills it would bring. Ports around the globe have taken such courses to the detriment of their host cities.

And again, the SPA, which doesn’t intend to grow the cruise business, could put the public’s minds at rest by agreeing to reasonable, enforceable limits.

The State Ports Authority has an economic mission: to grow and to serve more business and industry.

But it is a state agency, and there’s something wrong when a state agency, given the opportunity to do the right thing for the public, chooses not to.

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Both sides signal shoreside power win

BY Tyrone Richardson
trichardson@postandcourier.com
Posted: February 27, 2014
Both sides in the debate over cruise ship emissions claimed victories after Charleston City Council approved a resolution in support of equipping pleasure vessels with a shoreside power source “if needed” after a new passenger terminal opens.

Jim Newsome, the State Ports Authority’s chief executive, said Tuesday that the 10-2 vote was an endorsement that the maritime agency is “doing what is best to improve air quality in the harbor.”

Those seeking shoreside power and opposing the site of the SPA’s proposed terminal said the city resolution bolstered their cause as well. “The vote showed we’ve turned a corner on the cruise issue,” said Katie Zimmerman, program director at the Coastal Conservation League. “A few years ago, there was a rush to build a cruise terminal with no consideration of options for reducing impacts, but now there is openness to figuring out how to get this right.”

Environmentalists and neighborhood groups have complained about air pollution coming from cruise ships that idle their engines to generate electricity while at Union Pier Terminal. Most complaints single out the Fantasy, a 25-year-old vessel based in Charleston year-round.

Groups such as the Coastal Conservation League and Charleston Communities for Cruise Control said they appreciated the city resolution, even while describing it as watered-down compared to the original proposed by Councilman William Dudley Gregorie. Gregorie’s wording didn’t include “if needed” in regard to shoreside power.

He rescinded his version for another from Mayor Joe Riley. “It doesn’t require its use, but it acknowledges the significance of the problems and the potential shore power offers to solve them,” said Dana Beach, executive director of the Charleston-based league. Zimmerman added that the focus now shifts to an Army Corps of Engineers study ordered by a judge last year as part of a federal lawsuit.

The league and the Preservation Society of Charleston filed the complaint after the Army Corps issued a permit for a $35 million cruise terminal the SPA wants to develop at the north end of Union Pier. The Army Corps was ordered to go back and assess the impact the new passenger building would have on area properties. “Options like shore power will be thoroughly examined in the federal review process for a new terminal,” Zimmerman said.

A spokeswoman for the Army Corps was not available for comment Wednesday. The Fantasy must run one of its six engines to generate electricity while in port, prompting calls for the SPA to require vessels to plug into a shoreside outlet.

The SPA has defended its measures to reduce air pollution at Union Pier. It hasn’t fully embraced the use of shoreside power, saying better, less costly options are available. Last week, the agency announced that Carnival will outfit the Fantasy with air-pollution scrubbers during a planned overhaul in October 2015. The devices are designed to reduce sulfur dioxide and have filters to trap soot. Also, the SPA will install an air-quality monitor at Union Pier.

The council resolution says the city supports the General Assembly in assuring that money is available for shore power at the new terminal if and when it’s needed. A House’s budget-writing committee recently approved up to $5 million to pay for it.

The SPA said in a statement Wednesday that its new terminal “would be equipped to handle a shore power connection, if necessary.” “The SPA has and will continue to significantly contribute to air quality improvements, and we will monitor air quality on Union Pier to ensure a true representation of the facts and full compliance with identified regulatory standards,” the statement said. “If any further action is required, that is based upon a change in standards or air quality, the maritime industry and SPA will respond appropriately.”

Carrie Agnew, executive director of the Charleston Communities for Cruise Control, said her group was pleased with the resolution, but she added that the debate over cruises isn’t over. Her organization remains “equally concerned with a more appropriate location for the new terminal other than in the heart of the Historic District,” and it is seeking a binding agreement that limits the size and number of cruise ships in Charleston, she said.

The SPA is opposed to such caps.

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Shoreside power advocates support resolution

Click here to see the newsclip or read the verbiage below.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — Charleston City Council is debating whether it should pass a resolution supporting shore power for cruise ships. The measure would require ships to use electricity while docked instead of its onboard diesel engines.

A group of supporters is pushing to make it a reality.

“We want people to still want to come here.  We don’t want them to be overwhelmed,” said Carrie Agnew.

She loves Charleston, but she worries about its future as a tourist destination because of pollution from cruise ships.

“If you’re going to be doing something, you want to be doing the most advanced thing as possible.  And I think Charleston deserves no less,” said Agnew.

She’s executive director of Charleston Communities For Cruise Control, also known as C-4.  Her group wants city leaders to push for shore power at a proposed passenger terminal at Union Pier.

“We just think it makes much more sense when you’re building a new cruise terminal to be fiscally responsible and environmentally sensitive and do the right thing,” said Agnew.

Carnival has already promised to install exhaust-gas cleaning technology on its Charleston-based “Fantasy” next year.  It’s already begun using low-sulfur marine gas oil.

Officials from the State Ports Authority say more than $16 million has been spent in the last ten years to reduce the environmental impact of its operations.  They support Carnival’s efforts to do the same.

Still, advocates of shore power say more needs to be done to protect the environment and people.

“The amount of soot on my porch increased significantly,” said Gil Baldwin.

He lives near Union Pier.  The retired doctor is also a medical advisor for C4.  He, too, is concerned about pollution from cruise ships.

“We know that plug-in power reduces these harmful, very carcinogenic materials to virtually zero,” said Baldwin.

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Scrubbers can’t erase…

The South Carolina State Ports Authority announced last week that Carnival is retrofitting many of its cruise ships, including the Charleston-based Fantasy, with scrubbers to reduce air pollution.

While it is good to see some acknowledgement of the risks posed by diesel particulate soot, the reality is that the scrubber proposal is part of a Carnival plan to avoid burning cleaner fuel otherwise required by law.

What’s more, the fact remains that shore power — plugging in a cruise ship while it is docked — is the cleanest option available. Not only does shore power reduce the total amount of pollution emitted by hundreds of tons per year, it would disperse the remaining pollution over a much larger and less populated area.

Announcing the investment of scrubbers and filters by Carnival, SPA President and CEO Jim Newsome said that “the Fantasy’s exhaust comprises 0.05 percent of total pollutant emissions in Charleston County.”

This statement shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the danger associated with the pollutants from a significant diesel source: location, location, location.

When it comes to air pollution, and especially diesel air toxins, proximity matters. Other ports have located industrial cruise terminals away from population centers for that reason. Other ports have also installed shore power — including at the cruise terminal in Brooklyn, where a Carnival ship calls.

In Carnival’s eyes, Charleston is not worth that investment. In fact, Carnival’s proposal to use scrubbers is part of an overall corporate campaign to avoid burning cleaner fuel while in port and out at sea. The International Maritime Organization, and subsequently the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, approved a regulatory plan that required ships to start burning cleaner fuel in 2010, and fully phases in by the year 2015. Carnival led a major lobbying effort to overturn that rule, and ultimately was able to encourage the EPA to allow flexibility to the law through the experimental use of scrubbers and filters.

The EPA has granted the trial under the assumption that the scrubbers and filters will achieve the same effects as burning the cleaner fuel, but we will not know until the experiment begins.

Further, once the scrubbers and filters are installed on a ship, that particular ship no longer has to burn cleaner fuel. The use of scrubbers and filters adds to water pollution from cruise ships.

Studying the washwater left over from scrubbing and filtering, the EPA has pointed out that “use of scrubbers to clean the exhaust from marine engines using high sulfur residual oil and diesel fuels may lead to high concentrations of a number of harmful compounds in the water body around the ships.” These harmful compounds include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), the largest known group of cancer-causing substances. PAHs also change the genetic materials of mammals, and bioaccumulate in edible shellfish consumed by humans.

The washwater also contains dangerous metals, such as arsenic, copper, lead, nickel, and selenium. Impacts from exposure to these metals include impaired organ function and reproduction, birth defects, and if at a high enough exposure, acute mortality.

In tests of scrubbers on cruise ships, the EPA determined that the amount of PAHs and metals disposed of could pose a risk to humans and other affected mammals and shellfish, and could also exceed water quality standards on a localized scale. Limits recommended by the International Maritime Organization “may not be sufficiently protective.”

The Post and Courier’s recent coverage of this debate included statements from our city leaders, such as “I think it [shore power] should be installed when needed … when it proves direct environmental benefit and it’s cost effective,” as well as “why is it necessary at this time?”

The data are here. It makes sense to include shore power in the design for the new cruise terminal. We also know the cost-sharing structure from other ports, including Brooklyn, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Juneau, among others.

We know shore power will protect the most lives in our dense downtown where many people work, live, and visit.

The time for shore power is now. Any delay or refusal to acknowledge this fact makes it very clear where our elected leaders stand on a deadly threat to the public’s health.

Katie Zimmerman is program director of the Coastal Conservation League.

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CHS | Why we’re lucky to have the Post and Courier

There are big differences in journalistic integrity among today’s newspapers.  Some papers refuse to be self-critical, some papers stifle comments and opinions opposed to their editorial positions, are critical of the paper or one of their reporters or columnists.   Some were once “great newspapers” that became great by reporting stories honestly and serving as a forum for an open public discourse of issues and ideas.   But in the industry’s new era of cost-cutting, media bias and compromise, many have slipped.
Today the editors of Charleston’s Post and Courier demonstrated greatness.  It wasn’t simply because they published the op-ed below, but because this particular op-ed openly criticized the viewpoint of a popular columnist.  They didn’t have to publish it.  No one would have known.  But they published it.  Unedited.  Charles Rowe and the P&C editorial board deserve credit.  We’re fortunate to have a newspaper in Charleston run by people who still care about journalism’s highest calling.

Here’s that op-ed: “Court keeping a Close Eye on Cruise Issue.”

BY JAY WILLIAMS

If Brian Hicks and Mayor Joe Riley are your only information sources about the proposed Union Pier cruise terminal project, you may be forgiven for not knowing much about it. Especially about two of the most recent lawsuits.

A recent Hicks column began, “The State Supreme Court was pretty dismissive to the ‘cruise control’ crowd last month” before saying that the justices “were sort of condescending.” And “if that wasn’t dismissive enough,” Hicks continued, “Mayor Riley called the lawsuit ‘almost laughable’ from the start.”

Fortunately, there are more nuanced commentators…

Please continue reading in today’s printed Post and Courier or at this link:

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140218/PC1002/140219420/1021/court-keeping-a-close-eye-on-cruise-issue

 

 

Written by jwilliams
The Charleston Cruise Control Blog, written by Jay Williams, Jr., published periodically since May, 2011, consists of opinions and discussions about cruise ship tourism. Although Jay is involved with various local organizations, the opinions he expresses are solely his; they do not represent the views of any organization or other individual.  Mr. Williams is an independent blogger/writer. We present these blogs for C4 website visitors as an information source and as an additional way to chronologically follow the debates, commentaries and discussions about cruise tourism in Charleston.

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Charleston-based Fantasy cruise ship to get new pollution scrubbers, port says

Cruise ship emissions are talk of the State Ports Authority board meeting today.

SPA chief executive Jim Newsome announced the Carnival Fantasy will be outfitted with air-pollution scrubbers in October 2015.

Also, the ports authority will add an air quality monitor at its Union Pier Terminal, where the Fantasy is home-ported.

The ship’s emissions have become a focal point in a movement to limit cruise visits in downtown.

Right now, the Fantasy must run its engines to generate power while in port, triggering calls for the SPA to invest in so-called shoreside power.

Newsome said the Fantasy’s exhaust comprises 0.05 percent of total pollutant emissions in Charleston County.

Also, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is making a rare appearance at the SPA meeting.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Riley came to discuss a City Council member’s plan to introduce a resolution next week supporting of the use of shoreside power for cruise ships.

The meeting started at 1 p.m.

The Post and Courier was first to report on the resolution today.

The SPA has been opposed to investing in shoreside power. Riley has mostly supported the maritime agency’s on issues involving its cruise operations.

The installation of a shoreside power source would enable cruise vessels to get electricity by plugging into outlets that would have to be installed at Union Pier Terminal.

The SPA has said that isn’t cost effective. It also has said it’s been looking at other alternatives to address air emissions from ships tied up at Union Pier.

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Back shore power

Back Shore Power

My home is on Laurens Street. The city long ago zoned Laurens Street, which is adjacent to the proposed cruise terminal, for high-density residential development. This zoning means there are many families living in this very small area.
There are already 60 condominium homes, which are a stone’s throw from where the cruise ships will be docked.

Also approved for development on Laurens Street are two additional high-density residential buildings, one of which would be for senior citizens, many of whom will likely have pre-existing health problems.

My question to Mayor Joe Riley and the members of City Council who blindly follow his lead is this: How can you first zone an area for high-density residential living and then in good conscience propose to place ships proven to emit huge amounts of dangerous sulfur dioxide emissions immediately adjacent to all these homes?

On Feb. 25, at 5 p.m at the Charleston City Council meeting, council member Dudley Gregorie will introduce a motion in support of shoreside power for the proposed new cruise terminal.

I strongly encourage all residents of the city to attend this meeting and take a stand with Mr. Gregorie in support of shoreside power.

I thank Mr. Gregorie for his caring stance on behalf of all citizens.

Tommie Robertson

Laurens Street

Charleston

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