Mayor Hatley and city officials gather to thank those responsible for Ingram Dunes Natural Area
Mayor Hatley thanked the many individuals and organizations that were part of the city’s purchase of land this June that enabled the city and the public to keep the Ingram Dunes area public and allowing future generations to enjoy its unique beauty.
“Good afternoon, and welcome to the Ingram Dunes Natural Area.
“We are here today because on June 4, 2019, the city of North Myrtle Beach purchased from Hillside Development, LLC, 7.24 acres of the 9.35-acre site popularly known as Ingram Dunes.
“The purchase price was $2.5 million, based on an appraisal ordered by the landowner.
“Everyone, from the largest donor to the smallest, is responsible for our being here today. However, there are those without whose involvement we would not be here today.
We owe the South Carolina Conservation Bank and its board of directors a large debt of gratitude. The board worked with the city as we went through extended negotiations for this unique piece of land. We thank the board for staying the course, and we thank them for the conservation bank’s $500,000 investment in Ingram Dunes.
“I would like to thank our city council members for committing the city to its $500,000 contribution. While many people in our community loved the idea of preserving Ingram Dunes, I can tell you that not so many of our taxpayers loved the idea of committing significant taxpayer funds to this project. However, council understood the value of this land to the community and stayed the course.
“Even with those two major contributions, we were still $1.5 million short of the funds needed to buy this land. I know we can all agree that when the family of Charles Ingram stepped forward to announce that it would contributed $1.4 million to the purchase of this natural area, this was the turning point in all of our efforts. Without the generosity of the family of Charles Ingram, we would not be celebrating here today.
The city also received 71 donations from the public. The donations ranged from $10 to $16,039. In the interest of time, I will identify those who contributed $5,000 or more to this effort:
Damien Trioulerye – $10,000 personal donation, plus $6,039 collected from his website efforts for a total of $16,039.
The North Myrtle Beach Historic & Preservation Society – $12,190;
Jane Vernon – $10,000; Anne Elliott – $5,000; Rick Elliott – $5,000; Sara Floyd – $5,000; Donna Shealey – $5,000; Vanna White – $5,000; Alison Wilson – $5,000.
“We offer special thanks to the members of the Horry County delegation, from the federal to the local levels.
“Journeys like the one that led us all here today do not just “happen.” Someone rises up and lights the spark, encouraging others to embark on the journey.
“We thank Damien Trioulerye and Jane Vernon for having been early leaders of the effort to preserve Ingram Dunes. They introduced us to the unique natural value of Ingram Dunes.
“There were times in this process when they inspired us and there were times when they tried our patience, but they began this journey and they encouraged us all to persist in this journey, even when the potential for funding was dim. Thank you, Damien and Jane.
What is the future for Ingram Dunes? It is now city property and managed by our Parks & Recreation Department. While our parks division employees will maintain this property, we will not add much to what is already here. That is why we now refer to it as the Ingram Dunes Natural Area. The name honors the family whose generous donation made this day possible, and it emphasizes that the city will preserve this land as a natural area for the enjoyment of all.
“Members of the Charles Ingram family are here today but they prefer not to speak. They are comfortable in letting Ingram Dunes speak for itself.”
Damian Triouleyre was happy that the day had come for everyone to enjoy the dunes and remembered how everything leading to Thursday’s celebration had come about. “It was October 28, 2016, and there was a knock on my door. A neighbor pointed out a city sign that advertised a rezoning hearing, a request made by a developer to change the city zoning from R-1 (single family) to another denser development. The plan was to build up to 38 houses on the property. We began mobilizing neighbors to attend the planning and zoning meeting to speak against the change and development of the site,” Triouleyre said.
That was the beginning of a multi-year effort to save the dunes from development. “We attended city council meetings, set up a web site about the dunes, made a video and were able to talk with city leaders and council at a workshop about disallowing development on that property. Eventually the rezoning request was denied due to public input and support for the Ingram Dunes,” Triouleyre said.
The SC Environment Law Project also teamed up with the local effort to preserve the property. Executive Director Amy Armstrong and Lorraine Chow attended Thursday and Chow spoke of their assistance. “We assisted in the legal process that challenged DHEC permits for the property. We worked for one and a half years to represent the local effort. It really was a true community effort,” Chow said.
Triouleyre echoed the community support that saved the dunes. “It was a community effort started by citizens, acknowledged by our mayor and council and borne out of love for those dunes and property and will be enjoyed by people for generations to come. For years people have walked there, played there and felt the magic of that place,” Triouleyre concluded.