SULLIVAN'S ISLAND -- Town Council took another step toward a bigger elementary school Monday night despite vocal opposition from a standing-room crowd of more than 100 people.
Many worried that Council was voting in favor of an over-sized structure that would stick out like a sore thumb.
"I want a school, but not a monstrosity," said Red Wood, who has lived on the island for 53 years.
Despite the opposition, Council voted 6-1 in favor of a lease with Charleston County School District that could mean a school of up to 74,000 square feet for 500 students. Mayor Carl Smith cast the dissenting vote.
"Seventy-four thousand square feet is huge. That's not part of the character of the island," Smith said.
Monday night's vote was a second council ballot in favor of the lease. A third favorable vote is required.
The issue arose because the island school was judged unsafe in the event of an earthquake. For that reason, students were moved to Mount Pleasant at the former Mamie Whitesides Elementary School on Rifle Range Road.
Fleming Harris, who was principal at the island school for 24 years, said it had 35,000 square feet, including some trailers. "Up to 77,000 square-feet may be a little bit much," Harris said.
Supporters of the bigger, $28 million school said it was an opportunity that may not come again if the process drags on because of the people who want a smaller building.
Councilwoman Hartley Cooper said that despite some comments to the contrary on Monday night, the approval process for the lease has been "as open and transparent as possible." She said the difference between the two school options under consideration is 418 kids versus 500 kids, which in her opinion is not a make-or-break issue.
"Some people think we should throw a gate up at the Ben Sawyer Bridge but we can't," she said.