September 2012: Mayors
Author: Drew Laughlin and Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Photography by Anne
The Coligny Concept
Hilton Head Island’s town council recently authorized the town manager to move forward with a design for Coligny area improvements. The Coligny area has been identified in many forums as an area to focus public investment aimed at enhancing the experience of residents and visitors and to serve as a catalyst that would spur private sector redevelopment and investment in the district. The Coligny area is located in the town’s tax increment financing (TIF) district, and funds are currently available to implement many of the public sector infrastructure improvements that would achieve both of these objectives. The TIF mechanism mandates all funds be committed for eligible activities prior to the expiration of the TIF in December 2014. To effectively program, design, and execute a contract to implement the recommended improvements, a decision on the path forward should be made no later than September 2012.
Over the years, various plans have been proposed for this area. While most of these plans include numerous parcels in the vicinity of Coligny Circle, they all share some common features, including improved parking and the creation of public park/open space on the approximately 18 acres of town owned land in the area.
The town recently completed a financial feasibility and economic analysis of two concept plans for this area. The results of this analysis indicate that the town should move to install public infrastructure improvements in the district through the use of current TIF funds. The report also indicates that, from a financial standpoint, there is little reason for the town to subsidize redevelopment of viable existing commercial enterprise. Keeping this and the time sensitive nature of available TIF funds in mind, staff has developed a proposed plan that we believe would serve as a foundation for improvements in this area. The plan focuses on 1) improved parking and creation of green/open space on town owned property, 2) enhancements to streets adjacent to this town owned property, and 3) establishing a presence for USCB’s hospitality programs on the island. Other opportunities to work with surrounding property owners may develop in the future. The concept does not preclude them but would serve as a foundation to get improvements started in this area.
I am particularly intrigued with the potential a USCB presence offers. Not only would students be able to earn hospitality management degrees, but there could be programs for employees of island hospitality businesses to enable them to enhance their careers and skills. Osher Lifelong Learning would be available, providing quality, intellectually stimulating educational opportunities and experiences for island residents and visitors. Speakers would lecture on a wide array of subjects. Imagine a demonstration and competition kitchen in front of a 100-seat amphitheater with cooking competitions and classes! The USCB concept has potential to enrich the quality of life on our island and produce a real return on our investment.
Bluffton Selected to Participate in National Recycling Challenge $100,000 at stake
Bluffton is competing in the SC Johnson Green Choices Recycling Challenge, a nationwide contest for a $100,000 grant for a sustainability project, which hinges on residents’ participation. Our town was selected to represent South Carolina in this program, and after one month, we are in sixth place, behind Virginia, New Hampshire, Michigan, North Dakota and Wisconsin. I want to remind everyone about this challenge and encourage more participation from the residents in the areas that have been chosen.
Bluffton joins more than 300 communities across the U.S. and the U.K. that have implemented Recyclebank to help increase recycling rates through incentives and rewards to residents, including deals on everyday household items and groceries. In addition to significant environmental benefits, increased recycling has a positive impact on municipal finances through disposal cost savings and revenues from the sale of recyclables. Many thanks to Waste Management, our town’s provider of waste and recycling collection, for choosing this area for the competition.
Anyone living in Sun City or the town of Bluffton can participate in the challenge. To register, log on to www.recyclebank/greenchoices. Creating your account is easy, as you need only to provide an e-mail address and create a password. Once a Recyclebank member, you will receive a weekly e-mail reminding you to report that you have recycled to earn points. (The site is also a great place to learn easy ways to increase your recycling habits.) You can also use the Recyclebank smartphone app on your iPhone and Android devices to report recycling, check your Recyclebank points balance and discover eligible reward offers. In order for your recycling activity to count toward the challenge, you must report your recycling efforts at least once a month.
A leaderboard at recyclebank.com/greenchoices will track progress each month, and the winning community will be announced in January 2013. Please take a few minutes to help Bluffton and Sun City win this prize. One hundred thousand dollars will go a long way to aid our sustainability initiatives.