April 2018

A Note From Our Mayors

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

A Note from David Bennett
Heritage is big, but less is more

You’ve often heard that “less is more.” And then there’s “bigger is better.” Can these statements coexist? When it comes to our own RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, the right balance is displayed. Over the 50 years since its inception, we’ve filled this exciting week with many fitting examples. Let’s celebrate them again this year as we honor the golden anniversary of this hallmark Hilton Head Island event.

Only a few PGA tournaments have achieved this pretty big distinction. The Masters, the Dean and Deluca Invitational, the Sony Open in Hawaii and AT&T Pebble Beach are the exceptional company we keep. But it takes big effort, big commitment and big vision for a small island’s event to make it to this short list, and our tournament has been big when and where it counts.

It all began with a few big names: a Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and the one and only Arnold Palmer as inaugural champion. It continues with World No. 1 Dustin Johnson making the trip to Harbour Town this year in search of some tartan plaid. Our big sponsors, the Royal Bank of Canada and the Boeing Company are committed to the tournament’s success as they are to the prominence they enjoy in their businesses.

What’s also big is the giving spirit of the community. The Heritage Classic Foundation has distributed $38 million to charities since 1987. Its mission statement says volumes: “Local charitable causes enhance the quality of life of all.” Non-profit groups that run concession stands throughout the event produced nearly $250,000 for their charities last year alone. And we all know and benefit from the more than 1,200 volunteers who work throughout tournament week, exuding energy, enthusiasm, selflessness, and contagious joy. We couldn’t ask for better partners and island ambassadors. Islanders do giving and hospitality on a grand scale.

We have big exposure, too. In April, we welcome the world to our home. Broadcasts during the RBC Heritage are aired in 23 languages to 226 countries beyond the borders of our United States. This equates to a potential one billion viewers, plus online and social media exposure. But that’s where all this “big” and “more” balances with the beauty of our unique island. The course itself may be smaller than others, but that makes it more distinct. Pros comment that they “don’t need length for a great golf course,” and “you have to shape the ball on almost every hole.” Also distinguished are the best practices employed, such as caddie hospitality and the childcare program, both of which allow players’ families to enjoy every bit of the event.

But the setting — the setting is where we really experience the value of less is more. Here on Hilton Head Island, the nexus of people and place allows for the enhancement of each. We know it and so do those who visit. They see the natural resources, the lifestyle of the island, and they realize what draws us again and again.

Emphasizing “less is more” are Harbour Town’s certification as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary and Hilton Head Island’s designation as one of South Carolina’s first Audubon International Certified Sustainable Communities. In 2017, the RBC Heritage became the first PGA tour event to be GEO Certified, excelling in waste management practices, diversions from landfills, water conservation and carbon reduction using renewable energy. Less intrusion. More conservation. Less impact on the natural resources. More natural resources to enjoy. This year we delight in April with the tartan plaid-wrapped Harbour Town Lighthouse. We celebrate the setting of Calibogue Sound, the flora and fauna, the sounds and smells. They need no embellishment, because less is often so much more.

______________________________________

A Note from Lisa Sulka
Make your Voice Heard

Engaged citizens improve government, and nowhere is that truer than at the local level. Here in the Town of Bluffton, elected officials and staff members actively seek input from residents and other stakeholders regarding our programs and projects. We use a wide range of tools to solicit this feedback such as community outreach, face-to-face meetings, public hearings, public comments at Town Council and other town-sponsored meetings, and via our website and social media links.

Throughout the year, citizens provide information to Town Council and staff regarding community needs for the town. Our Lowcountry Council of Governments asks us every year to rank the needs of a segment of our community that fits in to the low to moderate income levels. Based upon this input from residents, and following a community needs assessment and prioritization public hearing at the February 13, 2018 Town Council meeting, five community needs were identified as priorities for the upcoming year: infrastructure improvements including sewer, water and drainage; transportation and pedestrian safety; residential rehabilitation of housing for safe and dry housing; restoration of properties or facilities of special value to the community; and affordable housing for low to moderate income (LMI) individuals, families and seniors. Establishing these priorities makes a number of town projects and programs eligible for grant funding, so this annual process is important.

Another recent example was when the public provided Council with input to specific projects and programs during the recent Strategic Planning Workshop on January 18. A number of these ideas, as well as staff proposed projects, will be presented to the Planning Commission on March 28. During this meeting the commission will make a recommendation to Town Council on how to prioritize the five-year capital improvements program project list. Based upon this input, Council will adopt a CI project work plan and budget for the next fiscal year and beyond. The Capital improvements program is where past and current projects such as the May River Road streetscape, Dr. Mellichamp Drive streetscape, Garvin House renovation, water quality improvement projects, and sanitary sewer projects are developed and implemented.

An engaged public assists us in determining what needs—whether programs, policies or projects—our citizens feel are most pressing. So, be sure to make your voice heard along the way by attending a meeting, workshop or public hearing or by reaching out to Town Council or staff.

Let Us Know what You Think ...