A Note From Our Mayors
Author: Drew Laughlin, Lisa Sulka
New Projects, New Opportunities
I would like to update you on several exciting town projects that are underway or have recently been completed. We are very proud to open, this month, a beautiful new park on Skull Creek that provides water access for non-motorized water craft (kayaks, rowing, sailing, paddle boarding, wind surfing, etc.), as well as fishing and crabbing. The Rowing and Sailing Center at Squire Pope Community Park, located on the site of the old seafood co-op at 133 Squire Pope Road, cost just under $1.2 million to construct. This park includes parking areas, restrooms, a picnic pavilion, playground, fire pit, swings, benches, and two fenced, gravel storage areas, along with a fixed timber pier, aluminum gangway, and floating dock. You may contact the Island Recreation Center for information on the water craft programs they will run out of this facility.
Another beautiful waterfront park opening this winter is the new Shelter Cove Community Park. It replaces the former park and will contain the same amenities and Lowcountry style, but with an added performance pavilion. This project is being funded and constructed by the mall developer as part of a development agreement.
As part of our ever-expanding pathway network, we have recently completed construction of two new pathways along Pembroke and Gardner Drives. This adds another mile and a half of pathways, which connect several mid-island residential and commercial developments to the Leg O Mutton Road and William Hilton Parkway pathways. In January, construction will begin on a new pathway along eastbound William Hilton Parkway (US 278 Business), from the new traffic signal at Leamington to Shelter Cove Lane. It will connect to a new pathway in front of the mall that was privately funded and constructed as part of a development agreement, totaling another mile and a half of new pathways to be finished this spring.
We have just rehabilitated six town roads (Oak Park Drive, Electric Avenue, Mingo Way, Cooperative Way, Thompson Street, and Power Alley) in the Mathews Drive, Chaplin area to provide proper pavement and drainage infrastructure as well as much needed on-street parking. In January, we will begin construction of a new roundabout at the intersection of Mathews Drive and Marshland Road, a project designed to enhance traffic conveyance and public safety. Both of these projects are funded with Tax Increment Financing (TIF), a very rewarding program that allows the town to take tax money that may have been spent elsewhere in the county and devote it to providing new and enhanced infrastructure within the TIF district here on Hilton Head Island.
Stormwater Education in our Community
Each year in October, our local citizens and others come together at the annual Historic Bluffton Arts and Seafood Festival in Old Town. The festival is a week-long event that offers a myriad of activities and showcases our locally harvested seafood, delicious Lowcountry cuisine, and our rich history and culture that revolves around our waterways, especially the May River.
The event highlights all of the reasons that we need to continue our best efforts to protect this most valuable natural resource. That’s why Town Council celebrated the week of October 15 as “Water Quality Awareness Week” in Bluffton. A town proclamation was created to encourage our local citizens to take action and conserve our local waterways and shorelines. In addition, this proclamation highlighted the town’s continuing efforts to educate our students and citizens regarding these resources.
The Town of Bluffton’s Stormwater Management Division provides a variety of public education offerings throughout our community, from civic groups to school groups. The benefits of these efforts cannot be understated and are a key component of proper stormwater management.
For example, town staff recently conducted a fifth grade field trip for M.C. Riley students. Students learned about the May River Watershed, stormwater runoff, and some of the tools used to measure water quality. Students also visited with Bluffton Oyster Company staff to learn about the company’s long local history and how they harvest seafood from the May River. Students were generous enough to write thank you notes which said, “Thank you for helping us to understand [that] we have to help you,” and “[to] the Oyster Company, I thank you workers…thanks to you, I have food to eat.”
Staff also recently partnered with other non-profit organizations to host over one hundred Red Cedar second graders. These partners included The Lowcountry Institute, The County Channel, Beaufort County Solid Waste & Recycling, Master Naturalist & Oldfield Naturalist volunteers, and the Bluffton Oyster Company. Six environmental stations were created, and students learned about the water cycle, local flora and fauna, recycling, stormwater, the Oyster Factory, and the May River.
Classroom education programs like these play an integral role in our town’s stormwater pollution outreach program. Providing stormwater education through schools conveys the message not only to students, but to their parents as well. It opens the door for the child to become the teacher and often generates curiosity in the parent.
If you are a parent, school group, or civic group and you wish to learn more about the programs the town’s Stormwater Management Division offers, please contact stormwater technician Beth Lewis. Beth can be reached throughout the week at (843) 706-4559 or firstname.lastname@example.org.