Those local people who have concerns about the negative impact of a growing cruise industry are in good company. Worldwide company. Company in such places as Venice, Italy; Key West, Fla.; and Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Preservationists from those and other places around the globe are so concerned about the ill effects of cruise ships on the cities where they call that they are planning to gather in Charleston in November to learn from each other.
In the lead will be the Preservation Society of Charleston, fulfilling its role as an advocate for maintaining the city’s historic nature and buildings. A network of people fear that the traffic, congestion, pollution and visual impact of increasinlgy large cruise ships would damage the city. They want reasonable, enforceable limits.
Still, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley told reporter Robert Behre that those who want the industry regulated are a small minority, and that they have not compromised plans for a new cruise ship terminal. The SPA is proceeding with its plans with the city’s support.
The race has begun. The city and SPA have no plans to delay their business plan. Preservationists, neighborhood groups and conservationists want to slow the process until their concerns have been addressed.
National Trust for Historic Preservation Director Stephanie Meeks spoke to the Preservation Society on Thursday. She mentioned the cruise issue only briefly, but what she didn’t say spoke volumes: She didn’t say that the Trust has removed Charleston from its watch list for endangered places. It remains there, just as it remains on a similar list of the World Monuments Fund.
The question is whether advocates for cruise limitations can forestall SPA long enough for the November conference to produce recommendations.
Ms. Meeks said that Charleston has set standards for historic preservation. There is reason to hope that the international conference here will come up with ideas worth waiting for. The city and the SPA should be as receptive as the preservation community.