January 2018

A Note From Our Mayors

Author: David Bennett & Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Krisztian Lonyai

A Note from David Bennett
The End is Just the Beginning

The late Stephen Covey’s second Habits of Highly Effective People offers sage advice for any January: Begin with the end in mind. And Hilton Head Island’s recently hired Culture and Arts Network director, Jenn McEwen, and the newly formed citizen Advisory Committee established to support her position are doing just that! With the end of 2018 in mind, and with all the buzz about infrastructure, they’ve embarked on an infrastructure project of their own — minus the concrete!

The project, a three-pronged strategy, is designed to produce much-needed structural support for our town’s prolific cultural assets. Once that support is in place, the opportunities to create, communicate and collaborate will dramatically benefit all Hilton Head Islanders, whether business, resident or visitor, now and into the future. Quality of life, economic well-being, community pride and visitor experience will all be even better. Here’s where we begin:

Step #1. Apply for the distinguished State designation of South Carolina Cultural District from the South Carolina Arts Commission (southcarolinaarts.com). A cultural district is a geographic area with a concentration of cultural facilities, activities, and assets. It is easily identifiable to visitors and residents and serves as a center of cultural, artistic and economic activity. Bluffton and Beaufort are two of the eight South Carolina municipalities that have already achieved this distinction.

Mapping our assets is an important part of the application, and our map currently features nearly 200 locations where arts and culture “happen” here. That’s more than four cultural sites or activities per square mile! This designation will strengthen our local cultural identity and sense of community. It will highlight historic sites, enhancing our image. The benefits are obvious: more recognition of our wonderful cultural assets; more opportunities to multiply our offerings; more reasons to visit for a short stay—or stay for a lifetime! McEwen and the Advisory Committee are working toward application submission on or about June 30.

Step #2. Marketing. This includes the development of an attractive and identifiable branding of the initiative, a new logo, and story lines intended to raise awareness of, and interest in, our island’s offerings through a variety of media outlets. A dynamic and responsive website with an interactive calendar will produce a means for broad-based information exchange—a valuable resource for collaborating and planning! Expect these infrastructure components to be introduced to islanders by September 30.

Step #3. Measurements. Americans for the Arts, an organization based in Washington, D.C. and New York, N.Y., “serves, advances, and leads the network of organizations and individuals who cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America” (americansforthearts.org). They have committed to perform an Arts Economic Impact Study specifically for Hilton Head Island. This will provide us with a baseline economic impact measurement, tailored to our unique location and environment. A corresponding economic impact calculator will be created so that all our arts and cultural organizations can more accurately analyze their impact on the community. An entire “high season” must be evaluated for the study to be reliable. Expect the final product to be delivered around December of 2018.

Work is already underway for each of these three critical steps. By the end of 2018, we should have infrastructure suitable to be the start to realizing the full potential of all our arts and cultural opportunities.

Jenn McEwen and chairman Jane Joseph are available to speak at community gatherings. If interested, please e-mail jennm@hiltonheadislandsc.gov.

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A Note from Lisa Sulka
Town Hall Gets a Makeover

Town Hall, located at 20 Bridge Street, is currently under renovation. The project includes renovating the existing structure, which currently houses Town Hall offices, the Charles E. Ulmer Auditorium and Calhoun Station. It will also add 4,582 square feet to the original building. When finished, total construction will be 28,876 square feet.
Construction on Town Hall began in November and is expected to last approximately 10 months. During construction, Town Hall employees and assets will be temporarily relocated.

Project highlights:
• Provide a formal meeting space for Town Council, Municipal Court and other public gatherings that is 4,582 square feet with 145 seats.

• Renovate Town Hall, Charles E. Ulmer Auditorium and Town Hall’s exterior façade.

• Enhance citizen entry to Town Hall and create a streamlined, shared common area for Town Hall, May River Theatre and Municipal Court.

• Install a new, efficient heating and cooling system.

• Improve the working environment for Town Council and staff with more efficient, consolidated working stations while providing natural light and common meeting areas.

• Upgrade information technology (IT) infrastructure through state-of-the-art equipment to support Gigabit Internet access and future technological advances.

• Improve and provide additional parking.

• Add outdoor lighting and public safety cameras.

Temporary locations:
• The Customer Service Center is located in the office trailers behind Town Hall along Pritchard Street. Customer service includes the following activities: building permits, building plans submittal, business licensing, general information and assistance.

• Municipal Court sessions, held every Tuesday, have relocated to the Beaufort County Government Center (4819 Bluffton Parkway, second floor). This location is strictly for court sessions. Municipal court employees are located in the office trailers behind Town Hall along Pritchard Street. If you need to pay a ticket or have administrative questions about your court date or ticket, please go to the mobile unit behind Town Hall. If you need to appear at court, please go to the Beaufort County Government Center on your court date.

• The majority of Town Hall staff, including the town manager, finance, growth management and engineering departments have relocated to 98 Fording Island Road. This office is located near the Toyota dealership on Hwy. 278.

• Town Council meetings and all public meetings will be held at the Rotary Community Center, located at 11 Recreation Court within Oscar Frazier Community Park. Town Council meetings are held every second Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m.

The Town plans to keep its residents and business owners informed about each step of this project through frequent news releases and social media posts. If you want to receive the town’s news releases via your e-mail, please sign up via the town’s website: townofbluffton.sc.gov/subscribe-to-our-mailing-list. Please also “like” the Town of Bluffton Facebook page for regular updates.

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