It is not easy for a business owner when circumstances beyond your control affect the bottom line. It’s something that every business owner is going to run into at some point. It has even hit us here at The News.
Hurricanes Michael and Irma were bad news for a lot of businesses in the area, including ours. We relocated to a hotel to run operations during Matthew and while we were able to work out of our own newsroom during Irma, we did so on generators for a few days.
That is all to say we have great empathy for what the businesses in the Pier Village of St. Simons Island are going through right now. Through no fault of their own, they are being affected by the drainage project currently taking place in the area.
For those who haven’t been to the Pier Village this year, a SPLOST-funded project to overhaul the area’s drainage system has been ongoing since January. The work was originally scheduled to begin after the Georgia-Florida weekend in 2018.
The project has had some ups and downs since it began. On Wednesday, the businesses learned that there was an unexpected setback with the project.
GWES Engineer Burke Murph told business owners and others that contractors uncovered a water line that wasn’t identified in their documents near Barbara Jean’s restaurant. The pipe conflicts with plans to run a drainage pipe through the area and needs to be lowered.
Lowering the water line will mean the Joint Water and Sewer Commission will have to point out a boil water advisory for the area for 48 hours.
That will affect four establishments — Barbara Jean’s, Brogan’s South, The Half Shell and St. Simons Tea Company. The boil water advisory means those buildings will be unable to serve food cooked with tap water or serve food on dishes washed with tap water. The businesses will likely have to close.
The county is trying to make the best of the situation by doing the work when it will cause the least disruption to the businesses. That is just one part of the construction. There is also work being done on the sidewalks and parking spaces that customers have to maneuver around. It will also lead to fewer parking spaces for a little while.
These are the headaches that Pier Village owners have been dealing with this year. The reason they have to deal with it is because the problem was neglected for too long. We hope that this is a lesson the county learns from in future years. The goal going forward should be to take care of problems when they arise, not at the last moment.
As for the businesses, we hope all of them come out OK during the project. We encourage everyone to swing by the Pier Village and get a bite to eat or do some shopping. You may have to park farther up Mallery Street, but don’t let the construction keep you from supporting businesses in the Pier Village.