D I G E S T
The Official Publication of the Kiawah Island Community Association
KICA Core Functions: Major Repairs and Maintenance
The Major Repairs Department, which includes General
Maintenance and the Mechanic’s Shop, is responsible for
research, planning and implementation of best practices
in infrastructure maintenance. The millions of dollars in
infrastructure under their care supports island life and is the
backbone of the island.
The department, headed by Director of Major Repairs and
civil engineer Will Connor, with support from KICA’s second
civil engineer Ryan Ellmers, is responsible for about 60 miles
of roadway, 43 miles of drainage, 25 boardwalks, seven timber
bridges, 19 miles of leisure trails and 122 retention ponds.
Connor has been a licensed professional engineer since 1987,
with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering
from Clemson University. He is a founding member of South
Carolina Beach Advocates (SCBA) and sits on the board.
SCBA is a nonprofit that advocates for investment in the
state’s beaches. Comprised of coastal community members,
they encourage dedicated state funding of beach preservation
and renourishment. Connor is also a member of the Town of
Kiawah Island’s Sea Level Rise and Public Works committees.
Ryan Ellmers has been a licensed professional civil engineer
since 2007, and holds a bachelor’s degree from The Citadel in
Civil and Environmental Engineering. His land development
and storm water management background was relied upon
almost immediately after he joined KICA in 2015. During
his three years, he has seen a 1,000-year flood event (2015),
Hurricane Matthew (2016) and Tropical Storm Irma (2017).
With their crew of five, General Maintenance oversees three
observation towers, two boat landings, signage, lighting, numerous
walk bridges along the trails which cross marsh and ponds, 10
crabbing docks, three boating facilities and two security gates. They
also provide support to the Recreation Department’s maintenance
team for The Sandcastle, Rhett’s Bluff and Cinder Creek. Major
Repairs work is paid for from the reserve budget, which is funded
primarily by Contributions to Reserves (a fee of 0.5% of the gross
purchase price of a new property, with a minimum at least equal
to the amount of the current year’s annual assessment) and reserve
assessments charged annually to all members. The reserve budget
is significant - $3.8 million in 2018 alone. Annually, Connor
produces a detailed three-year budget, supported by a reserve
study that looks at a 40-year projection.
Drainage and water control are a major part of the department’s
work. As a barrier island subject to tidal flow and storms, control of
water levels on the island is critical. The 15 water outfall structures
require constant monitoring and maintenance. All roads drain into
the drainage system. If there is a problem with a structure, it can
impact pond levels, water quality, and a host of other factors.
Kiawah’s ponds were designed to serve an integral role in drainage.
Two major outfalls, at Beachwalker Drive and at Canvasback Pond
on Governor’s Drive, control 75% of
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