ISLE OF PALMS — The heavily-traveled boardwalk in the commercial district that provides a way to the beach is in woeful condition, officials said, and City Council will consider a fix Tuesday night.
Some local politicians, however, think the vote should be delayed so the newly-elected council can decide whether to spend $565,000 on the project.
The 25-year-old weathered boardwalk in the midst of Ocean Boulevard bars, restaurants and inns has splintered boards and loose hand-railings.
"Every part of it is on its last legs," said Douglas Kerr, city director of building, planning and zoning.
Two-way foot traffic on the boardwalk can be a squeeze for people carrying beach stuff, and emergency responders may find the six-foot width tough to navigate with their life-saving equipment, officials said.
The council agenda for Tuesday includes whether to award a contract to replace the boardwalk, create better ventilation in the public restrooms and add more outdoor showers.
Councilman and mayor-elect Jimmy Carroll said the vote should wait until he and four new council members who won office in November actually take their seats in January. Three of them are political newcomers, and one is a former councilman. Also, a special election will be held Feb. 13 to fill the two years remaining on Carroll's council term.
Charleston County and the Park and Recreation Commission could be asked to share the cost of boardwalk and bathroom improvements because 95 percent of the users are day-trippers, officials said.
"Isle of Palms shouldn't have to pay for the the entire project," said Councilman Jimmy Ward. "I would like the council to hold off on letting any contract until after the new council has seen it."
The Berkeley Charleston Dorchester Council of Governments also could be approached about sharing the cost, Carroll said.
"It's a tough one. I don't think that we should be voting on this tomorrow," Ward said.
Charleston County helped build the restrooms, he said.
The new boardwalk will be 11-feet-wide, said Linda Tucker, city administrator, who called the current boardwalk "in bad shape and too narrow."
The bathrooms have a solid ceiling that will be removed and replaced with slats as part of changes to create better ventilation, Kerr said.
Construction of the new 150-foot-long boardwalk will take about 120 days, he said.
Money for the project includes $372,000 from the state accommodations tax fund and $175,000 from the beach preservation fund, according to city documents. The boardwalk will include a shower area and a privacy screen.
The city has implemented rules that make it more difficult to find parking in residential areas near the boardwalk. But it maintains two paid parking lots close to the front beach commercial area.