FEBRUARY 2011: A Message From Your Mayor (Hilton Head Island and Bluffton)
Author: Drew Laughlin and Lisa Sulka
A MESSAGE FROM YOUR NEW MAYOR, DREW LAUGHLIN
(Hilton Head Island)
Thanks to CH2 magazine, I plan to write a monthly article on Town government topics and issues that impact you. As your new mayor, I want to communicate in every way I can with residents, and by “communicate,” I mean I want to hear from you as well. Hilton Head Island’s recent mayoral campaign brought to the surface new ideas from those running for office and those closely following the election. As a result, it is my desire to keep the momentum, enthusiasm, and energy going.
I consider myself a pragmatist, unafraid to take calculated risks. For the last 15-20 years, your Town government, with your support, has been incredibly aggressive in its land acquisition efforts, park development, and roads, pathways and drainage improvements. Efforts in these areas will continue, but we must make progress elsewhere. We are not immune from the national economy and, as a result, we face declining revenues. We have reduced our budgets accordingly, however, that does not mean, and it will not mean, that Town government will bide its time and wait for good times to return.
As an avid sports fan, I am reminded of a baseball-related quote: “Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.” The Town will be considering some bold moves this year on a scale not previously experienced. Both feet will be off first base. We hope to make progress with a developer of the mall that spurs more economic activity there. We have developed an out-of-the box plan for invigorating the Coligny Beach Circle area. The success of that plan will depend on willing land/business owners and a Town government and its residents willing to take risks that achieve a new feel and look for the island. We need to find a way to address dredging problems that present obstacles to residents, visitors and businesses. We need to save the all-important Heritage Golf Tournament, by any means. These are examples of some of the most important opportunities and challenges we have. Town government cannot achieve these alone, and we need you to weigh-in on these plans. Once Council decides a direction, after input from you, we’ll need your enthusiastic support.
There are obstacles and there are opportunities. The difference between the two is attitude. Opportunities have difficulties, and every difficulty has an opportunity. I believe, optimistically, we have some very exciting opportunities ahead of us. By accepting change to, for example, our Land Management Ordinance that will allow for greater clarity and flexibility, we will achieve some of the bold changes addressed earlier. We’ve already begun; please join us.
A MESSAGE FROM YOUR MAYOR, LISA SULKA
I am very excited to be a regular in CH2 and CB2 magazines, and hope that I can give you some insight each month about what is going on in Bluffton. 2010 was a successful year with regards to our Capital Improvements Program (CIP). Thanks go to my council for supporting this program and also to the engineering department for seeing these projects through to completion. I think you, as taxpayers, will be very proud of what was accomplished.
BIS Phase I
The town completed and commissioned the main trunk line. Household connections will be completed early February, 2011.
BIS Phase II
Completed design and Construction is out for bidding.
Completed sewer trunk line and individual household hookups.
NEW PARKS PROJECTS:
Oyster Factory Park
With funding assistance from SC DNR and Beaufort County, the Town of Bluffton was able to complete phase I improvements. They consist of a new ramp, which is made up of individual concrete tiles filled with oyster shells in order to blend with the existing character of the Bluffton Oyster Company; resurfaced the road and added a native plant drainage swale and other stormwater devices. The largest new stormwater treatment feature is a “Raintank” stormwater detention and filtration system, capable of holding 28,500 gallons of water. The massive tank is buried underneath the open area to the west of the Wharf Street. The bluff overlooking the river was cleared, the natural slope restored and stabilized and native plants were added to fill in and further protect the bluff from erosion.
New River Linear Trail
The Town has just completed a parking lot to provide access to the trail (located on Hwy 46, between the first and second entrances to the Heritage at New Riverside community). An added feature is an information kiosk with a trail map. The trail crosses through forests, wetlands and former rice fields.
Building & Grounds
Completed ahead of schedule and under budget, the new facility allows for secured/fenced storage of Town equipment, tools, supplies and covered maintenance areas. The category 3 facility is equipped to serve as emergency offices in the event of a major hurricane event.
Law Enforcement Center
Occupancy scheduled early spring, 2011. This facility is currently ahead of schedule and under budget.
We anticipate 2011 to be another successful year with the completion of even more projects!