Boat landing to close for May event

  • Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Jessen Boat Landing in Oakbrook will be closed to the public May 3 for the upcoming Oakbrook Ashley Riverfest. Although it did not require an official vote, Town Council agreed to allow the closure at a special called meeting Tuesday night.

The Riverfest, an educational event that will incorporate the boat landing, Colonial Dorchester and the Ashley River, will have vendors using all three spaces.

According to Councilman Bob Jackson, who is helping organize the event through the Oakbrook Civic Association, all three local plantations will be using the parking lot at the landing to have demonstrations of plantation life.

Colonial Dorchester will be hosting a major military reenactment and a revolutionary war boat will be coming up the Ashley River for the event, he said. Thirteen conservation groups will also be involved with the festival.

Councilman Terry Jenkins, who participated in the meeting via a speakerphone call, was the only person of the group to fervently disapprove.

“I think we’re disenfranchising the people who use the landing,” he said.

Councilman Jackson disagreed, citing statistics from the recent master plan surveys that show 50 percent of the people who took the survey didn’t know the landing existed.

“We’re hoping to use the landing to encourage people to use it,” Councilman Jackson said.

Eventually the council came to a consensus that closing the landing would be beneficial to ensure safety and bring awareness to the public about its existence. Council specified allowing the closing should not set any precedent for future closings. They also discussed using this year’s Riverfest as an example to see the disruption closing the landing might cause, and how to better host the event in the future.

Councilman Jackson said signs and advertisements will inform the public of the closing far in advance of the event.

During the meeting, Council also brought up releasing the $5,000 previously allocated for the event from the hospitality tax contingency fund where it’s budgeted. The council will vote to release the fund at its next meeting on March 12.

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