A Note From Our Mayors: July 2015
Author: David Bennett & Lisa Sulka | Photographer: M.Kat
July is here, and this means one thing: School is out and we are feeling the influx of folks coming to enjoy all that Bluffton has to offer. It’s great to think that out of all the other locations where families can spend their vacation, they decide to come to our corner of the Lowcountry to experience all the wonderful things that makes Bluffton so special.
Our town has become a pretty busy place where it feels like vacation time all year round, but the activity ramps up even more so during the summer. On Farmers Market day (Thursdays from 2-7 p.m.), it’s amazing to see how many visitors come from all over to enjoy the great food, the historic Old Town district, and the beautiful views that Bluffton provides.
Along with the visitors, we also have an increase in traffic, and I want our law enforcement staff to know how proud I am of them for all they do to keep our roads safe and in order. While I’m on the subject, I need to say that I am really excited about the progress at our new police sub-station on May River Road. This project is coming along, and the location offers us the opportunity to have a presence in our Old Town core to offer community service for those who are walking or driving by. Our staff is already offering directions, information and other general assistance to our residents and visitors, including scheduling community events.
More and more people are choosing Bluffton to host their events, and staff is doing an awesome job of accommodating them to ensure a memorable experience. We recently completed renovations to the Tom Herbkersman Commons plaza where everyone is already enjoying the beautiful new landscaping.
Another project that will soon commence is the landscape renovation at the Dubois Park. This is one of our most visited parks and a perfect spot for families to gather throughout the week as well as for all to enjoy during their visit to the farmers market. Our residents have also turned it into a gathering place for lunches and classes, and some folks even enjoy taking their pets there. Just remember that your pets are sharing the space with our community’s children, so please be responsible and clean up after your pet.
While we’re enjoying the festive summer season, we must remember that this time of year is also the start of hurricane season. The town staff recently had our hurricane preparedness meeting, and I want to remind all our residents to be sure to plan for such events. Summer is easier and more enjoyable knowing you’ve got a family plan in place in case you need one.
Our hearts still ache over the recent tragedy in our sister city of Charleston, South Carolina.
So, in the midst of these troubled times, what should communities do to build and strengthen relationships? Several weeks ago, I was honored to be in attendance with my good friend, Alex Brown at a meeting where Grace Community Church of Hilton Head decided to partner with Central Oak Grove Baptist Church of Hilton Head, to begin building better bridges between the residents of our community.
Since then, and perhaps sensing an urgency to come together, many from our community have joined the effort, and the inaugural event will be held on July 4th, Independence Day in an event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.at Honey Horn titled “One Island – Community”.
This inaugural picnic and fellowship event could not be more timely in the aftermath of the Charleston tragedy. It will be emceed by Lavon Stevens with plenty of music, food and children’s activities. It will be a wonderful opportunity to promote fellowship. I encourage all residents to attend to honor those who lost their lives in Charleston and support local efforts to increase understanding, build relationships and encourage unity.
Over the years Hilton Head Island has been given accolades for excellence by a wide range of publications and organizations.. “ Top 10 family vacation destinations”, best golf resorts, best tennis resorts, best public beaches are just some of the long list of “best lists” that immediately come to mind.
Cumulatively these awards have helped attract a broad variety of vacationers from around the world as well as retirees and new residents who are looking to enjoy a community that offers such a marvelous lifestyle.
Now we have a new distinction that those here at Town Hall feel very proud about – having Hilton Head Island selected a few weeks ago as a “Gold-Level Bicycle Friendly Community” by The League of American Bicyclists. It is a recognition our entire community should feel very good about — whether you are a bicycle rider or not. This is because bicycling is recognized internationally as a significant factor for improving a community’s environmental sustainability. Bicycling not only lowers the carbon footprint and improves air quality but also been shown to benefit public health and reduce childhood obesity.
Achieving Gold Status has put Hilton Head Island among the elite “Top 25” bicycling communities in America. It is the only such designated community in the Southeast. The recognition underscores more than just our island’s 60 miles of pathways, but also our Town’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies. We have enjoyed a wonderful public/private/organizational partnership between the Town, The Bicycle Advisory Committee, the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and several local cycling groups.