July 2019

A Note From Our Mayors

Author: John McCann, Lisa Sulka | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

A Note from John McCann
Town Council Teamwork Leads to Progress

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”
—Babe Ruth

My team is the Town Council of Hilton Head Island, and together we are working to make our community better. I have spent many days with my six Town Council colleagues, so we’ve come to know each other pretty well. As elected representatives, we are charged with listening to constituents, acting in their best interest—and listening to each other. This is sometimes difficult to do when seven different individuals bring forth seven different opinions on dozens of issues. We’re guided by complex government ordinances and citizens who demand our attention. There are times when I’ve thought, “What did I get myself into?”

But, when I interact with my fellow councilmen and councilwoman, I realize I am in it because I love our community, and I love the people I am working with. We each bring a range of business and community experiences, diverse backgrounds, and a shared commitment to finding resolutions to the challenges we face as a town.

Our first interaction as a new council came last December when we sat together for a work session to identify our top priorities for 2019. Six months down the road, I would say we’ve made pretty good progress. I attribute this progress not only to the work our town staff is doing, but also to our Town Council working together as a team. In doing so, we are able to focus on our priorities: Lowcountry Celebration Park/Coligny Area Redevelopment, the U. S. 278 Gateway Corridor Project, Mitchelville/Gullah Geechee Cultural Preservation, Comprehensive Plan Review and Update, and Workforce Development.

Last month, we held a groundbreaking ceremony for our Lowcountry Celebration Park, one of the largest projects that the town has ever undertaken. Pope Avenue has been resurfaced, and other roadway improvements have been made in the Coligny area. For the U.S. 278 Gateway Corridor Project, we created an advisory committee and appointed 13 local citizens from a variety of professional backgrounds and interests to serve on it. That committee meets regularly to strategize and offer input into the process being led by the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

For Mitchelville/Gullah Geechee Cultural Preservation, a town consultant presented recommendations for cultural preservation. Town staff is evaluating those recommendations to see what is appropriate to implement. We are continuing to work with St. James Baptist Church and Beaufort County on a relocation plan for this historic Gullah church.

We approved a development team and work groups, made up of local citizens, to help us re-write our comprehensive plan. Those groups are meeting regularly to discuss ideas for this plan. As part of workforce development, we hired a housing consultant to help assess our housing needs and develop recommendations. Those recommendations are being reviewed and prioritized.

Town Council has addressed many other issues as well. I applaud them for their devotion, for focusing on our priorities, and for being a council that gets things done. Thanks team!

John McCann is the mayor of Hilton Head Island. JohnM@hiltonheadislandsc.gov.

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A Note from Lisa Sulka
Symposium Highlights Historic Preservation

The National Register of Historic Places formally includes the Bluffton Historic District, 46 of its contributing buildings, as well as two coves. The Church of the Cross is listed as an individual site as well as the most recent individual listing of the Campbell Chapel AME Church on April 26, 2019.

Last month, the town hosted the fourth annual Historic Preservation Symposium. The theme of the symposium was “The Bluffton Historic District: Then and Now.” The symposium brought together historic preservation organizations, including Bluffton Historical Preservation Society (BHPS); Celebrate Bluffton; Palmetto Bluff Conservancy; A Call to Action; Bluffton Township Black History Preservation Society; and the Bluffton Cultural District.

The event was a joint effort, planned by Town of Bluffton staff, Bluffton preservation organizations and Joni Heyward, an Old Town Historic District property owner and preservationist. The event took place at the recently removed Town Hall, a building that has evolved over time from a school to a Town Hall facility. The event was attended by nearly 200 people and was viewed by approximately 1000 people via Facebook Live.

The speakers included Christian Sottile and Josh Martin. Sottile is the principal of Sottile & Sottile, a Savannah-based design firm working extensively in Nationally Registered Historic Districts. He is also a professor of architecture and urban design at the Savannah College of Art and Design and is the former dean of the SCAD School of Building Arts. Sottile was also a consultant who participated in the development of Bluffton’s Old Town Master Plan.

Josh Martin, currently Palm Beach’s director of planning, zoning and building, brings nearly 20 years of experience in senior roles in Charleston and Bluffton. Formerly Bluffton’s senior planner, community development director and town manager, Martin brings a perspective of watching Bluffton implement plans for historic preservation through the years, while promoting business-friendly initiatives. Martin was also involved in the development of Bluffton’s Old Town Master Plan.

Both discussed the sense of a city and highlighted that it is about the people first and the sense of place, which is so distinguishable in Bluffton, and that it is more than just the buildings.

Martin wrapped up the symposium with a comparison of the Old Town Master Plan that was developed 14 years ago with what was actually built and implemented. He emphasized that the real world of Old Town today is straight out of the Bluffton playbook of the Old Town Master Plan.

This event can be viewed today on YouTube and perhaps still on the town’s Facebook page. It is a must-see if you haven’t viewed it. The Old Town Master plan is also on our website and is a document worth reading.

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