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Isle of Palms Exchange Club broke ground on its first pier and dock in the nonprofit’s history on June 27.

One of the last properties along Breach Inlet without access to the Intracoastal Waterway broke ground on its first ever pier and dock project last month. After more than 70 years of establishment, the Isle of Palms Exchange Club agreed it’s time to spruce up its accommodations for members and the public.

In 2012, the effort was spearheaded by IOP councilmember Ted Kinghorn, who’s also a member of the club’s Waterfront Improvement Committee. After seven years in the making, the nonprofit finally came to a head on the financial framework to finally begin laying the foundation.

“It’s the biggest fundraiser we’ve ever taken on,” said IOP Exchange Club President, Thomas VandenBurg.

However, money aside, the proposed renovations weren’t originally welcomed by members in years past. However, recently more than two-thirds of the club voted in favor of the proposal.

“I think for some people in the club it was just a hard concept to grasp,” said IOP Exchange Club Vice President, Deb Barr. “It’s a big deal to actually have water access and some people worry about the liability of that. It took some people a little while to come on board.”

The construction itself, Phase I encompasses a 134-foot bulkhead and a 220-foot covered pier head that is projected to cost $220,000. Phase II consists of a floating dock that is estimated to cost $35,000. The total construction cost is over a quarter of a million dollars.

After completing Phase I funding, on July 8 Carolina Dock and Marine began mobilizing their equipment to start the bulkhead and pier. Also, they’re doing remedial work on the club’s building and its patio to prevent damage when they put in the bulkhead pilings.

Pat Gillespie, chair of Facilities Event Maintenance, expects Phase I to take approximately 11-12 weeks and be complete by the end of September. Gillespie estimates Phase II will require six to eight weeks of construction, but an end date hasn’t been set due to insufficient funds. He suspects it will probably take another year of funding before Phase II gets underway.

Once complete, the pier will be publicly available to individuals, group gatherings and people with disabilities by invitation, according to Gillespie. He clarified that the pier and dock is for strictly non-motorized use. It’s specifically designed for fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding and enjoying the sunset.

VandenBurg noted that since the dock didn’t meet the safety requirements, it’s classified as a non-commercial dock.

“We want to make sure that it’s safe and that it’s appropriate for all of the different, diverse groups we want to support,” he added.

VandenBurg and Barr confirmed that administrative logistics are being worked out for potential partnerships with the city in the future.

The Isle of Palms Exchange Club is a not-for-profit organization of over 650 chapters nationwide. The club is based on four main pillars: Americanism; youth programs; prevention of child abuse and community service. Standards of service which they vow to incorporate with the club’s new pier and dock.

To make a donation to the club’s dock, visit