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


Limit cruise-ship consequences on peninsula

FEBRUARY 4th LETTER TO THE EDITOR, Post and Courier, by Steve Gates

Yes, the South Carolina Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Lines on a technicality.

The court said that since all members of the public suffer from congestion, pollution and noise associated with cruise ships, the plaintiff neighborhoods did not have standing to sue for individualized effects. Therefore, neighborhood associations near Union Pier, which bear the most direct effects, will not get their day in court.

The basis for the lawsuit was far from frivolous given the seriousness of the issues, the fact that Judge Newman, appointed by the S.C. Supreme Court to hear motions in the case, had recommended that a majority of the counts proceed to trial, and the determination by the Supreme Court in its cruise ship opinion that “All members of the public suffer from and are inconvenienced by traffic congestion, pollution, noise and obstructed views.”

On a positive note, neighborhood associations and preservation groups hopefully will have the opportunity to participate in the historic preservation impact study required by a federal judge to determine whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should issue permits at Union Pier for a new cruise ship terminal.

This study should include analysis of the full scope of impacts of cruise ship operations on the historic district and could explore alternatives to a cruise ship terminal at Union Pier.

Also on a positive note, our Charleston state representatives, recognizing the statutory obligation of the State Ports Authority to consider mitigation of the effects of new projects on the City of Charleston, have proposed state funding for shore power for cruise ships.

Wherever a cruise ship terminal may be located, shore power facilities would be a welcome feature to eliminate the current pollution and soot problems and the health issues emphasized by our county and state medical societies.

Other forward-looking port cities have improved the health and quality of life of residents by finding a way to offer shore power for cruise ships. Use of shore power could eliminate pollution as a consideration in analyzing the best location for a terminal.

We hope our City Council will request that shore power facilities for cruise ships be installed in Charleston.

Neighborhoods near Union Pier have been emphasizing for three years the need to mitigate the impacts of cruise ships on downtown Charleston by limiting the size and number of ships, offering shore power and exploring alternate locations.

A decade from now, there could be a vibrant new waterfront community at Union Pier or there could be a cruise ship terminal and massive parking lot, pressured to take many more visits by even larger cruise ships and significantly influencing the type of development that occurs around it.

Getting this wrong can significantly change the historic Charleston experience and the reason that so many land-based tourists come.

Steve Gates is president of the Charlestowne Neighborhood Association.

Letters to the Editor, Thursday, Jan. 30

Stop the ships

Since the Preservation Society of Charleston and its members have no standing before the court to try to regulate cruise ships, that leaves it up to those who certainly do have a standing: we the people who live here.

Those of us who understand the damage the ships are doing and will do to our beloved city should gather together as individuals, find a lawyer and re-file in our individual names.

Passengers who want to visit Charleston could take a land taxi (jobs) or a water taxi (more jobs) to Charleston. And anybody who doesn’t want to come to Charleston would be welcomed by Mount Pleasant restaurants and other businesses (more jobs) and especially the Yorktown. The Yorktown would benefit immeasurably (even more jobs?).

Docking the ships near the Yorktown in Mount Pleasant would be a win-win for everyone. Why don’t we just do it?

Sue Johnson
Meeting Street

Letters to the Editor for Wednesday, Dec. 11

Clearing the air

Commendations are due the State Ports Authority and its CEO, Jim Newsome, for supporting removal of unhealthy air pollution from trucks at the SPA docks by promoting more eco-friendly trucks that haul cargo to and from its terminals. Incentives are given for short-haul drivers who travel back and forth from SPA terminals.
And the SPA’s new Clean Truck Certification Program requires trucks serving the container yards to be equipped with engines manufactured in 1994 or later. As a result, 84 trucks were replaced with more efficient ones at a cost of $1 million paid with support from the SPA and state. The goal was reduced diesel air pollution.

However, my commendation is tempered by the SPA’s refusal to require shore power for cruise ships which berth at Union Pier, right next to neighborhoods, causing far more air pollution than those trucks.

Why is the SPA not installing shore power to protect the health of Charleston residents and visitors?

And for shame that the City of Charleston is not requiring shore power for the same reasons. Why are Mayor Joe Riley and City Council not supporting shore power?

J. Kirkland Grant
Mary Street

Per the City…. we all suffer….

Attorneys argue in front of S.C. Supreme Court over harm cruise ships would cause Charleston

By Schuyler Kropf

COLUMBIA — Allowing a lawsuit that challenges Charleston’s cruise ship visits over zoning issues to stand could damage global commerce if taken to the extreme, a lawyer argued this morning before the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Attorney Marvin Infinger said the lawsuit filed by preservationists and neighborhood groups could essentially be applied to all commercial shipping that calls on Charleston.

“The suit, if allowed to stand, would do violence to the ocean-going commerce of this nation,” he said.

Additionally, lawyers argued the plaintiffs looking to challenge the cruise ship visits are not uniquely affected by the traffic and congestion the ships have brought.

City attorney Frances Cantwell said, “The harm is no different in kind than what we all suffer.”

Attorney J. Blanding Holman IV, who represents the plaintiffs, said the suit should go forward because of the systematic harm the ships are bringing to a closed, confined and historic part of Charleston.

Check back later for updates.

Local elections are upon us

City of Charleston voters on Tuesday will choose six people to serve on council for the next four years. Two incumbents are unopposed — Dean Riegel in District 10 and Kathleen Wilson in District 12.

Our recommendations:

Mike Seekings in District 8
Some of the biggest challenges the city of Charleston faces can’t be resolved quickly.

That’s why it is important to have Mike Seekings’ reasoned, experienced voice speaking up for ongoing projects like improving drainage, repairing the Battery and implementing plans to provide safe travel for bikes going between West Ashley and peninsula Charleston.

Mr. Seekings, first elected to council four years ago, considers as one of his top priorities the city’s failing infrastructure. He’s not yet satisfied with the city’s ongoing efforts to address flooding. He feels strongly that the west end of Calhoun Street is critical and must get quick attention. When it floods, doctors and patients find it impossible to get to and from the hospitals.

Mr. Seekings’ district has expanded to include the Battery — a neighborhood where there is considerable interest in regulating the local cruise ship industry. He wants to require cruise ships to plug in to shoreside power when they are idling at dock instead of continuing to produce emissions. He also will push for “responsible and enforceable limits” on the number and size of cruise ships that are based or call here in the interest of the health and livability of peninsula Charleston. He correctly points out that cruise ships produce no revenue for the city, which provides traffic control, EMS and street repairs. That needs to change.

Although repair of part of the eroding Battery has begun, Mr. Seekings wants the city to budget for the full project to ensure its timely completion.

A lawyer, Mike Seekings is an avid runner and a bicycle enthusiast who says he will keep pressure on the powers that be to convert a lane of the bridge from west of the Ashley to the peninsula for bikes and pedestrians.

He also serves on the College of Charleston’s Traffic and Transportation Committee to mitigate tensions between town and gown, particularly on parking, bicycles and skateboards.

Further, he promotes the upper part of peninsula Charleston as a good place to attract businesses and add to the city’s tax base. (He voted against raising property taxes last time, and would like to see the tax hike repealed.)

Mike Seekings has a strong grasp of issues that Charleston City Council can and should tackle. He has been an independent voice. Give him another term to make more headway.


Liz Fulton in District 4
Liz Fulton understands the big picture in Charleston. She understands the urgency of getting flooding under control and keeping property taxes reined in. But she also sees everyday needs in the large and diverse District 4 and has the patience and persistence to make sure they’re addressed.

Some of the problems are relatively minor. For example, some streets, like Drake, have potholes that Ms. Fulton says already should have been fixed. As a council member, she would stay on the case until street crews are on the job.

In Cannonborough/Elliotborough, the big issues are related to livability, development and conflicts between established residents and transient students. Improving the town-and-gown relationship is important, and one way to accomplish that is to add sorority and fraternity representatives to the committee charged with addressing those issues.

Liz Fulton is a lawyer, with a background in marketing and journalism. With that perspective, she is confident that she can help the city draw new businesses and employment opportunities to her district, which she describes as “the most exciting in Charleston.” Parts of the city’s Digital Corridor are in the district centered along booming upper King Street.

But training and educational opportunities are needed so that residents can find jobs and not be pushed out of their neighborhoods as housing costs rise with the new prosperity. Better public transportation is needed in District 4, and in the greater metro area, to assist those efforts.

When Liz Fulton was a student at the Charleston School of Law, she did legal research on the issue of cruise ships. Her research convinced her that the city is missing the boat by not imposing restrictions on the number and size of cruise ships using the local port. She also advocates for shoreside plug-in power so the ships don’t run their emissions-producing engines while at dock.

Infrastructure is a primary concern for her. Drainage problems in particular demand more city attention and resources. So does bicycle accessibility. As a cyclist, she has seen the benefits of reducing the number of cars using the streets and parking places downtown. Better education is needed about bike laws. And access across the Ashley should be provided, she says.

She has energy, a positive outlook and a strong sense of independence. She would deal with the small stuff while keeping a citywide perspective. Liz Fulton would bring new ideas and passion to City Hall.


Dudley Gregorie in District 6
In his four years as a Charleston City Councilman, Dudley Gregorie has done his share to bring the city’s infrastructure up to date. But the problem is more than drainage alone. “Growth in the Charleston area is unbelievable,” he says. “How do you move all these people?”

His solutions are worth the city’s attention. Public transportation should be advanced both locally and regionally. For example, he wants to see high-speed rail connect Charleston to Atlanta, Charlotte and Savannah.

The city’s improvements to storm drainage need to be expanded to places like Ashley Avenue, Gordon Street and Sumter Street, he says.

Of course, paying for such extensive infrastructure is a problem. But Mr. Gregorie has a solution — a partial solution anyway. He points out that the city gets no revenue from the cruise ships that are based or visit here. Other cities charge fees to help offset wear and tear on their infrastructure. Charleston should do the same.

In addition, he wants to the city to enact enforceable restrictions on the size and number of cruise ships that visit here, and he wants the city to require cruise ships to plug in to electric power when they are at dock.

Dudley Gregorie, who lives in Wagner Terrace, has seen his district redrawn to include parts of James Island. He hopes to begin cooperative dialogue among Charleston, the town of James Island, the James Island Public Service District and Charleston County — all of which have authority over parts of the island — on issues of mutual interest.

And he is eager for the city of Charleston to make way for bicycles on the James Island connector to accommodate the growing demand by cyclists, and to get cars off the roads.

The ambitious Horizon project just north of Cannon Street on Charleston’s West Side is an example of how the city can help provide workplace housing and bring jobs to the area, he says. The city should look at applying that sort of solution more broadly.

Dudley Gregorie said he personally pays for a staffer to help him respond to constituents’ requests for help. He is committed to serving the people of his district and beyond.

He has been an independent voice, standing for actions that he believes will make “the greatest city in America even greater.” Give him a chance to continue his quest.


Blake Hallman in District 2
Blake Hallman approaches his role as city councilman the way he does his role as owner of two restaurants. He looks hard — under rocks if necessary — to find where business can be done more efficiently, without compromising the city’s assets. During his first term in office he examined each department of the city, and found some opportunities. One example: He is pushing for the consolidation of trash services in areas like James Island that are served by more than one jurisdiction. He estimates it would save taxpayers $300,000 to $500,000.
He says Charleston has done a great job of being fiscally responsible and protecting the city’s livability. And as the city looks forward to a population surge, Mr. Hallman believes meticulous oversight is even more important.

He sees opportunity for the city to fuel revitalization west of the Ashley, including delivering on a senior citizens center that has been promised. He views the Citadel Mall property as a prime piece of real estate that warrants the city’s best planning. It could serve a mix of retail, hotels and businesses, or even be a business incubator.

Mr. Hallman has wisely supported imposing enforceable restrictions on the cruise ship business in Charleston. He also wants to require that ships use plug-in power when at dock.

His constituency would likely be divided on the subject of bike accessibility from West Ashley to peninsula Charleston. But Mr. Hallman has a sensible idea: Try the plan to convert a lane of the Legare Bridge to bike and pedestrian use. If it doesn’t work, it can be modified. He also believes there must be a way to make the James Island connector safe for bikes.

Blake Hallman gets things done. He was one of the forces behind preserving Morris Island before being elected to City Council. And he worked with the mayor to achieve a happy resolution to a dilemma over an historic church building on Wentworth Street. The congregation that was renting the church managed to buy it, thus retaining its historic use.

Mr. Hallman’s practical thinking, his attention to detail and his ability to focus on what’s important make him an asset to Charleston City Council. He should be elected to another term.

Now there’s an icon, Charleston.

The Oct. 20 Post and Courier Commentary page hit home on two counts: Alan Farago’s call for cruise regulations and Clemson President James Barker’s vision of the proposed Clemson Architecture Center at Meeting and George streets.

Having just returned from my fifth river cruise, with a post-stay in Prague, I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Farago.

The continuing unabated growth of cruise tourism will surely affect Charleston’s character, its quality of life and the environment.

The Charleston peninsula is simply too small to accommodate mammoth ships and hordes of passengers arriving and departing via personal automobiles.

Building the terminal in downtown Charleston would be a huge mistake.

Why can’t Mayor Joe Riley see that the sensible location for the cruise terminal is at the shipyard in North Charleston or across the river in Mount Pleasant?

Cruise passengers are accustomed to being bused to the day’s venue, often at some distance. It’s part of the adventure.

And to Mr. Barker’s desire for the proposed Clemson Architecture Center to become an architectural landmark in the city, I suggest he go back to the drawing board.

The low-level expanse of glass will quickly fill with potted plants, cluttered desks, dangling wires and the backs of computers — not a pretty view from the outside-in.

State of the art it may currently be, but an inspiring icon it will never be.

Let Clemson design an eye-popping, jaw-dropping, aah-arousing building that will have every tourist snapping a photo and buying a postcard, such as Prague’s amazing Dancing House completed in 1996 on a historical site destroyed in WWII. Now there’s an icon, Charleston.

Rose Hutchinson

Indigo Lane

Goose Creek

Ports Authority appeals federal judge’s decision on cruise terminal

The S.C. State Ports Authority is seeking to appeal a federal judge’s recent decision that forces the Army Corps of Engineers to further review the agency’s proposed $35 million cruise terminal in downtown Charleston.

Lawyers for the state’s maritime agency filed a notice late Thursday that they are appealing to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.



In September, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel ordered the Army Corps to redo the study that gave a permit for SPA to build the new cruise terminal at Union Pier. Gergel ordered the Army Corps to go back and review the project more thoroughly.

“By filing the notice of appeal to the fourth circuit court of appeals, the Ports Authority is proceeding with the process provided by law for a new review of the Corps’ authorization for the additional pilings at its marine terminal,” SPA spokeswoman Erin Pabst said in a written statement.

The Coastal Conservation League and the Preservation Society of Charleston filed the case after the Army Corps issued a permit allowing five pilings to be driven on the waterfront.

The pilings are needed to help transform an existing warehouse into the new passenger building.

The opposition groups have said the agency didn’t take into account the impact on historic properties.

The SPA, which has joined the lawsuit as a defendant, has been seeking to relocate its cruise terminal to the north end of Union Pier from the south end for about three years.

The federal case is one of three lawsuits opposing extended cruise operations in downtown Charleston.

Power Struggle: You Cruise, You Lose!

As taken from The Post and Courier, by Frank Wooten:

Shoreside power to the cruise ships!

That variation on “Power to the people!” won’t generate a rallying cry for Charlestonians demanding that cruise ships use shoreside power when docked here.

But that contentious issue is still sparking hard feelings.

As plugged-in colleague Bo Petersen reported on our front page Wednesday, getting electricity to a cruise ship that “switches off its engine in port to keep from burning polluting fuel” requires an “outlet that zings enough juice to light up several thousand homes.”

However, the venerable Carnival Fantasy, which home-ports at the State Ports Authority’s cruise terminal on the south end of Union Pier, isn’t equipped for shoreside power.

Our story also reported that what “started this whole mess and continues to drive it is toxic black exhaust from the cruise ship smokestacks at dock as the engines provide the ship’s electric power.”

And that powers much of the opposition to the proposed new $35 million SPA terminal at the north end of Union Pier.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is on board with SPA President/CEO Jim Newsome for that plan, which includes an extensive — and expensive — waterfront redevelopment beyond the new terminal. Both men stress that you can’t have one (that grand redevelopment) without the other (that swell new terminal).

The Coastal Conservation League and Preservation Society of Charleston are among the groups challenging the terminal construction permit in court.

Some folks see the new terminal and its accompanying redevelopment as needed economic-engine boosters in what is, after all, our Port City.

Some folks question why the city gives cruise ships a virtually free regulatory ride — and why those massive motors should keep belching unhealthy emissions while those vessels are docked.

Some dignified downtown folks are aghast at the unseemly spectacle of cruise passengers clad in T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops roaming freely about our Holy City.

Hazardous voyages

Enough about that divisive power debate for now.

What powers cruisers our way in the first place?

From Carnival’s web site:

“Give in to the genteel feel of the old South on Carnival cruises from Charleston, South Carolina. This is a gracious city of antebellum homes and sprawling plantations, best appreciated from the comfort of a horse-drawn carriage. The city’s unique Low country cuisine and dozens of delicious restaurants make it a southern foodie destination.”

Gee, and we genteel types lucky enough to live in these parts can do all of that without packing ourselves like sardines with strangers on a big boat (actually, a ship).

Most of us who live here even know that Lowcountry is one word.

Anyway, regardless of your present location or desired destination, why risk the ordeals endured by far too many cruisers?

Three months ago, Carnival figuratively threw co-founder Micky Arison overboard from his 35-year job as CEO.

From an Associated Press dispatch: “Arison came under fire during Carnival’s bad publicity earlier in the year when a string of its cruise ships suffered through mechanical problems and fires. The most dramatic of them was the Carnival Triumph where passengers were stranded at sea for five days as toilets backed up and air conditioners failed. There were media reports of raw sewage seeping through walls and carpets.”

We non-cruisers drew fresh validation from those gruesome plumbing details.

Fortunately, though, you can vicariously savor high-seas romance without smelling any broken-down cruise-ship stench.

Just watch vintage reruns of “The Love Boat” online.

Exciting and new

That 1977-87 ABC diversion features a future U.S. House member (Iowa Republican Fred Grandy as ship’s purser Burl “Gopher” Smith) and guest-star rosters of show-biz has-beens (including future California Republican House member Sonny Bono as a rock singer who falls in love with a deaf woman).

Despite a generally breezy tone, the series’ subtle subtexts frequently explore expanding social consciousness.

A DVD synopsis of my favorite episode, from 1978:

“A beauty contest on board ship divides a couple (Maureen McCormick, Bobby Sherman). A reporter (Vicki Lawrence) falls for a disgraced congressman (Dick Van Patten).”

They don’t make TV shows like that anymore.

But they do still make disgraced congressmen.

And they make cruise ships that can use shoreside power.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is