The destruction done in just three short days to an environmentally sensitive road — under the direction of the Charleston County Council — is not public road maintenance, it is desecration.
On Dec. 6, 2011, council made an arbitrary decision related to Raccoon Island Road and other rural roads, declaring them public rather than private or community roads. This decision apparently was made with no citizen input.
We fully oppose such action and find it rather irresponsible that in these times of government austerity the council would want to take on such an expensive responsibility without fully researching the impact of such a decision on environmentally sensitive areas.
I also believe that the county shouldn’t be forcing a public works project on our road.
Raccoon Island Road has minimal human impact on the landscape, serving as an avenue into a unique environment that is home to rookeries for wood storks, hawks, eagles, painted buntings, a variety of woodpeckers, great blue herons, alligators and other wildlife.
It is also a very historic road which leads to the Raccoon Island hammock. As recently as 30 years ago, the road dwindled to a horse path a mile beyond the original lots at the beginning of the road.
Scaniwah Island and Raccoon Island Road are rich in history as rural farm land utilizing innovative conservation techniques in the 1900s and with a Sea Island cotton mill from the 1800s at the end of our road.
This area has already been negatively impacted by the so-called improvements mentioned briefly in a letter council sent to residents. Any more county work in this area will radically impact our environment. Digging ditches and widening the road will drain our marshes, affecting our wildlife, including some endangered species, and destroying many trees used for nesting.
On May 8, grading equipment appeared on Raccoon Island Road. The operator dug into the bedrock of the road exposing the road to more damage. Then he widened the road three to four feet by grading — a neighbor’s mailbox was uprooted as well as small trees, and chunks of the roadside were gashed out of the edge of the road.
On May 9, two pieces of very large equipment proceeded down the road using the bush hogs to cut plants along the road.
This also tore large chunks of the dirt from the roadside and left gaping holes two to three feet deep along the road in many places.
Then they raised the bush hog into the air, turned it sideways and proceeded to rip branches off the trees along the road. The trees along Raccoon Island Road were left with broken branches hanging off, sap running from the larger limbs and large gashes in the side of the road.
After it rained the following Wednesday and Thursday, I again surveyed our road. The road “improvements” caused the unprotected banks of the road to collapse. There are deep water trails all along the road and dirt washed onto the road from the areas mauled by the maintenance crews.
This destruction was done prior to the 90 days allowed to oppose this proposal as detailed in the council letter sent to residents, and with the hearty endorsement of some residents from two gated communities, Meggett Point and Bailey’s Island.
We actually live on Raccoon Island Road, not in either gated community whose residents use the road to reach their private estates.
We do not believe that our tax dollars, our votes and our rights should be ignored.
Shirley Hrvol Pasquale Garzone
Raccoon Island Road Edisto Island