Could County Red Tape hold up Palmetto Bay Marina Cleanup?

“That’s what i need you guys to understand, im not talking about the boats, im talking about the docks, im talking about the trash out there,” explained Catron. “I’m talking about the stuff that nobody in politics in this County Is looking at and i’m willing to do for free.”

“They were all tagged by DNR. Mike (from DNR) even said guys if it was up to me and I could call the shot id say get it done, its about damn time,” explained James McGrath of McGrath Custom Hardwoods.

These crews want to do the work, and they say not for their own gain, but for a better community.

“We don’t want to take anything from boat owners,” said Catron. “I want to give the owner time to come and pay the reclamation fees and storage fees and move their vessel. They can have their boat.”

Beaufort County Councilman Stewart Rodman and Hilton Head Island Mayor David Bennett came to Palmetto Bay Friday to check on their work and their offer.

“The county is waiting on the state in order to decide who’s responsibility it was,” explained Rodman. “I assume they got a jump start on it by starting the bidding process assuming we had to do it.”

Right now the county has the project out for bid – which could cost taxpayers a quarter to half million dollars to do the same work these crews are offering for free.

“They can cancel that contract at any time, that’s their right,” Catron said to the Councilman. “I’m going to ask them to cancel it right now and reward it to us free of charge, let us clean it up, salvage the material, and if the County really has to spend a half million dollars, give it back to these people.”

Catron believes by maritime law, he can already begin the cleanup and removal process. But he wants to get clearance for Beaufort County first.

“the reality is if you think you have the right to do it, you can do that at your own risk.” said Rodman. “The County attorney advises me he knows its maritime law. He also knows there are issues with FEMA when it comes to reimbursement. he also knows there may be state laws, statutes that need to happen.”

“The debris thats out there and the liability that may be associated with that, I just want to make sure everything is done by the book,” explained Mayor Bennett. “I don’t want to see them after doing such a great thing for two days find themselves in a position they don’t want to be in.”

“From a business perspective i think everyone is here, there’s a chance to save some money,” continued Bennett. “I think you size up the risk and get to work. From a government pespective, and we need to make sure we are not affecting the opportunity to get FEMA reimbursement somehow for anything out here.”

The Companies moved six boats total in two days, but left the debris and docks in the water for now. They don’t plan on moving anything without County clearance.

Just after our story aired at 5pm Friday, the companies called News 3. They heard back from the county, and now have a meeting set with the Beaufort County Attorney to see how they can finish cleaning up Palmetto Bay Marina.

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