June 2011

JUNE 2011: Mayor - Hilton Head and Bluffton

Author: Drew Laughlin and Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Photography by Anne

DREW LAUGHLINHILTON HEAD
The Heritage Classic Golf Tournament: A Tradition like No Other

By many accounts, the Heritage Classic Golf Tournament in April represented one of the most memorable since 1969. A very strong field of golfers, enviable weather, and an exciting finish was gratifying to all who attended, volunteered and worked the event. Heritage Classic Foundation chair Simon Fraser and his board, tournament director Steve Wilmot and his staff, local, regional and national sponsors, and everyone associated with the tournament have a right to be proud, because they put on an impressive show for the world. Have you ever seen better cable and network coverage of an event like ours? Not I. Have you ever seen more PGA players publicly support a tournament? Not I.

This year’s tournament was different. No title sponsor and no imminent one could have meant that a dark cloud hung over the tournament, spreading doom and gloom. Quite the contrary. You could feel a real sense of community this year. People could not have been friendlier; local companies rallied to support the tournament as sponsors; daily tickets were scooped up by new spectators; and everyone I spoke with maintained a strong sense of optimism.

The word “heritage” suggests, among other things, tradition. Around here, the word “heritage” suggests a popular, longstanding internationally acclaimed PGA tournament that islanders rally behind as much as any civic event. Our Heritage Classic Golf Tournament creates traditions you may not realize.

Since 1969, the Heritage has meant that families, friends, media, players and volunteers have gathered here and formed traditions of their own. Having lived here since 1977, I have witnessed and experienced many such traditions. When you see mothers and fathers with their children, walking Harbour Town Links during the event, enjoying ice cream or a lunch together, you may see that same scene 20 years from now—only those children will be walking with their own. When you see a group of four ladies or gentlemen, walking around in golf attire, soaking up the event, it is probably not the first time they have attended—or the last. When you see many of the same volunteers working the tournament year after year, you know they enjoy the tradition of being together on a favorite hole or course location as it represents a reunion of sorts. When you see local non-profits feeding the masses and using those dollars to support local needs, perhaps that is the best tradition.

See you at the tournament next year.

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LISA SULKABLUFFTON

Over the next few months I will be highlighting each of our five goals that were established during our recent strategic planning retreat. The first of these goals, and what most believe is the top priority in Bluffton, is to celebrate the May River. This is our main amenity and why so many people move to Bluffton. Subsets of the goal are a) the preservation of the history and heritage as a major asset; b) quality water with opportunities for fishing, oystering, shrimping and crabbing; c) increased public access and use; d) working commercial activities; and e) expanded activities for residents to enjoy.

The town has made a major investment in the May River and has made much progress towards protecting this precious natural resource. Achievements over the past year include:

• Phase 1 at Oyster Factory Park, which included stormwater improvements, access ramp and roadway improvements and additional landscaping.

• Verdier Cove drainage improvements, which successfully improved flow patterns involving this basin and Hidden Lakes/Bluffton Park outflow areas.

• May River Watershed Action Plan initiated and substantially completed.

• Sewer installations on Buck Island and Simmonsville Roads begun and a grant received for additional sidewalks.

Action items for 2011 include the continuation and completion of the May River Watershed Action Plan; implementation of our water quality program; consolidation of our stormwater, water quality and related activities into one department to achieve performance economies of scale, improve implementation and support ongoing current and future initiatives; continuation of our May River cleanups; exploration of land acquisition opportunities to provide added river accessibility; and continuing to speak out about the May River’s importance to Bluffton and its contribution to the Bluffton “State of Mind.”

Additional stormwater management priorities include the May River Watershed Pilot Project Design; the EPA 319 Grant Administration; septic repair and replacement program; engineering plan review; construction site inspection and updating our Intergovernmental Agreement with Beaufort County; implementation of our Watershed Structural Best Management Practices (BMP) Projects; development of the Town of Bluffton water quality model; coordinate with Beaufort County for a regional stormwater approach.

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